Not content with simply sending rockets to the heavens and landing them again, SpaceX now wants to shoot satellites into space, and have them beam internet to Earth.
The private space exploration firm has filed an application with the United States Federal Communications Commission to launch a network of 4 425 satellites into low-Earth orbit.
The satellites would orbit the earth at altitudes between 1 110km and 1 325km, well above the International Space Station which hovers at around 435km above earth.
“The system is designed to provide a wide range of broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental and professional users worldwide,” SpaceX told the FCC.
The trouble with satellite internet is latency. As one would expect, it takes some time for data to be transferred from Earth to space and vice versa. According to a report by Ars Technica, SpaceX expects its latency to be similar to that of fixed line internet hovering at around 25 – 35ms.
What’s more is that SpaceX believes that it can deliver speeds of up to 1Gbps to users.
“Once fully optimized through the Final Deployment, the system will be able to provide high bandwidth (up to 1 Gbps per user), low latency broadband services for consumers and businesses in the U.S. and globally. Subject to additional development work, SpaceX plans to design and manufacture its own satellites, gateway earth stations, and user terminals,” said the firm.
The idea of beaming internet to Earth from space is not a new one. Just this week Eutelsat announced that it would launching satellite internet connectivity to Sub-Saharan Africa next year.
At this stage SpaceX’s huge satellite network this is still in the application process and we have no idea when, or even if this project would get off the ground.
And if it does, well, let’s hope SpaceX’s own satellites manage to get off the ground.