Technology SpaceX satellite broadband plans ready to blast off

13:20  14 february  2018
13:20  14 february  2018 Source:   Roadshow

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Elon Musk's rocket company has been working on getting satellite broadband off the ground for years. SpaceX will be launching a test of its planned satellite internet service aboard a Falcon 9 Saturday.

SpaceX on Wednesday deployed a broadband communications satellite for IntelSat, after twice ditching launch plans in the final seconds before liftoff earlier this week. SpaceX 's big new rocket stood ready to blast off on its first test flight Tuesday, as crowds began gathering at daybreak for the

SpaceX will be launching a test of its planned satellite internet service aboard a Falcon 9 Saturday.© Provided by CNET SpaceX will be launching a test of its planned satellite internet service aboard a Falcon 9 Saturday. A week after successfully launching its huge Falcon Heavy rocket, SpaceX is set to blast off another test of a long-awaited new product.

More than three years ago we learned Elon Musk and his rocket company were working on developing satellites to provide low-cost internet access around the world. The first pair of demonstration satellites for the company's "Starlink" service will finally be launched into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 on Saturday, according to correspondence between the company and the Federal Communications Commission.

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LeoSat's plan calls for between 78 and 108 satellites for a broadband network aimed at high-volume business customers such as major corporations SpaceX 's big new rocket stood ready to blast off on its first test flight Tuesday, as crowds began gathering at daybreak for the afternoon launch debut.

The satellite is the fourth in the company's Global Xpress (GX) constellation, aimed at providing high-speed mobile broadband service. SpaceX 's big new rocket stood ready to blast off on its first test flight Tuesday, as crowds began gathering at daybreak for the afternoon launch debut.

The main payload for the launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California will be the Spanish government's "Paz" satellite, designed to capture imagery of the Earth down to the single-meter scale. But there have been unconfirmed reports for several weeks now from space industry sources like NASASpaceFlight.com that a secondary passenger on the flight is rumored to be the Starlink demonstration setup.

SpaceX itself has been relatively mum about the debut of its Starlink satellites, and about the entire program itself. However, a letter from SpaceX to the FCC made available on the FCC website Monday makes it pretty clear what will be aboard the Falcon 9 when it launches Saturday.

The letter refers to two satellites called Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b that will be launched as a secondary payload on the Paz mission. The FCC granted SpaceX a license in November to launch this pair of satellites as part of a test mission. In its application, the company describes the test objectives:

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SpaceX has its sights set on Mars, but that doesn’t mean it has forgotten about Earth. Elon Musk’s company yesterday outlined its plan to put a network of internet-providing satellites around our planet, stating in a Senate hearing on broadband infrastructure that it wanted to start sending the craft into

In a Senate hearing on May 3, 2017, Patricia Cooper, SpaceX ’s Vice President of Satellite Government Affairs, addressed the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, outlining the company’s goal of becoming a satellite broadband internet service provider (ISP).

"In addition to proving out the development of the satellite bus and related subsystems, the test program for the Microsat-2a and -2b spacecraft will also validate the design of a phased array broadband antenna communications platform."

Putting that all together: SpaceX is testing internet broadband satellites that will be launched Saturday along with the Paz satellite.

A release from Vandenberg says the launch is scheduled for 6:17 a.m. PT and confirms "multiple smaller secondary payloads will also launch on the Falcon 9 rocket."

SpaceX declined to make an official comment.

Joy Dunn, the company's "Senior Manager of New Product Introduction," did drop this emoji-based hint on Twitter though:

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