SpaceX's Web of Global 'Starlink' Internet Satellites Gets a Green Light From FCC

Saturday, 31 March 2018 - 6:33PM
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SpaceX
Saturday, 31 March 2018 - 6:33PM
SpaceX's Web of Global 'Starlink' Internet Satellites Gets a Green Light From FCC
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While SpaceX was most recently in the news for launching cars into space (and preparing to land a giant rocket on Mars soon), a project that's much closer to home involves sending up a fast, global internet connection via satellites.

The full mission, dubbed Starlink, is actually to place a whole web of satellites stationed all around the world in low-Earth orbit, providing much faster broadband internet service by sitting much closer to Earth's surface than our current (and relatively more sparse) internet satellites. It's an ambitious project, and it won't be easy from a technical or legal standpoint to place their intended 12,000 satellites in orbit.

But SpaceX appears to making good progress on Starlink, because they just received official approval from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), which oversees the many satellites orbiting the Earth to ensure that nothing crashes into each other. With government permission taken care of, Elon Musk's satellite web is a go for launch, once it's ready.



Although they don't have free reign to launch satellites whenever they like. While their eventual goal was 12,000 satellites, the FCC approval specifies that up to 4,425 satellites to provide fixed-satellite service around the world. But considering SpaceX was happy to start their internet service once they had only 800 satellites ready, over 4,000 is an impressive number.

As of now, SpaceX has exactly two Starlink satellites in orbit. Last month, Microsat 2a and 2b were launched into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, and SpaceX is currently testing out those satellites before they expand the Starlink project any further.

Their current plan isn't to launch more satellites until at least next year, and it'll likely be a gradual project, since even their Falcon Heavy rocket doesn't have an enormous amount of room for holding cargo.  



Eventually, once Starlink is up and running, it'll be available worldwide, with some locations viewing it as a faster alternative for current internet services, and others viewing it as the first internet connection available at all.

So if your connection to the internet tends to be agonizing, Elon Musk thinks he has the answer. He may be an eccentric billionaire who plays with flamethrowers and digs massive underground tunnels, but he has a good track record for his oddball ideas.
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