We may soon be adding Internet provider to the list of things SpaceX offers.
Elon Musk’s space company, best known for its ambition to privatize space travel, has asked the Federal Communications Commission for approval of its plan to launch 4,425 satellites into orbit.
The goal of the satellites would be to provide Internet access for “residential, commercial, institutional, governmental and professional users” around the world, according to the FCC filings. The initial deployment would see the launch of 1,600 satellites. After 800 satellites are launched the company would turn on the service, which could cover the “contiguous United States, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” say SpaceX’s filings, submitted earlier this week.
Once fully operational, the system would encompass “virtually all parts of the Earth’s surface and therefore, in principle, have the ability to provide ubiquitous global service,” the filings say.
The “constellation” of satellites would be 1,110-1,325 kilometers, or roughly 690-823 miles, above the earth. This would put them into low-earth orbit, similar to weather satellites and much closer to the earth than GPS satellites, which are approximately 20,200 km, or 12,550 miles, away.
By operating closer to earth, the system could theoretically offer faster speeds that would rival, or even surpass, the cable and fiber optic broadband speeds available today. Once fully deployed, SpaceX says the system would be able to provide speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Eli Blumenthal