Elon Musk’s SpaceX made news headlines last week over launching its Falcon Heavy rocket into space, sending a Tesla Roadster and its astronaut driver through the depths of space.
News headlines are slated to be full of SpaceX news after it announced that the company is experimenting with a network of satellites in planet Earth’s orbit that could very well bring high-quality Internet connection to people across the world.
SpaceX launched two test satellites – called Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b – earlier today, on Friday, February 16th, into space. They’re currently orbiting the Earth, and have provided Internet coverage to research fellows within the company, although only as a test. SpaceX still relies on traditional sources of Internet, as of now – the two satellites were nothing more than an initial test.
If SpaceX’s plans go as planned, planet Earth’s orbit will be filled with a whopping 12,000 satellites, shooting around the planet at thousands of miles per hour, just miles above the Earth’s surface.
SpaceX is slated to launch more satellites – and not just test satellites, but ones that can actually offer Internet connection – into low-Earth orbit as early as 2019.
Today, high-speed broadband Internet connection is currently offered through satellites hovering around Earth. However, gaining access to satellite broadband costs a proverbial arm and leg, isn’t worth it because page loading speed is so slow, and not readily available to everyone on Earth.
SpaceX has revealed that it is joining forces with roughly 10 other entities, hoping to collectively bring high-speed Internet through satellites surrounding the planet.
The only organizations and persons that currently use satellite Internet are those in remote locations or groups like first responders that must have Internet connections in order to operate, and don’t have enough time to set up infrastructure to otherwise access the Internet. Long-haul boaters and aviation companies have also been interested in satellite Internet, though they typically don’t purchase access to it because it costs hundreds of dollars per day. Not per megabyte used – per 24 hours of access.
Each satellite launched into space will be able to cover slightly more than a radius of 1,000 kilometers. To reliably provide Internet connections to people around the globe, tons of satellites will have to be launched into the atmosphere, or else the technology won’t be feasible.
Satellites will also have to include high-tech tracking technology.