Surfing even in remote areas: SpaceX is making its first steps towards becoming a global Internet network via satellite. But the company is not alone with the idea.
The private US space company SpaceX has exposed the 60 first satellites for their planned global Internet network in space. A Spacex Falcon 9 rocket put her into orbit on Friday night, tech tech billionaire Elon Musk told the company. All satellites are now online, Musk tweeted a few hours after the start of the Kennedy Space Center in the US state of Florida.
The aim of the multi-billion dollar program called Starlink is to provide both remote areas and metropolitan areas with fast and inexpensive broadband Internet. In addition SpaceX wants to bring in the coming years according to previous plans up to 12,000 satellites into space. To guarantee smaller parts of the world a permanent access to the network, six more similar missions are needed, said Musk, according to the CNN.
The satellites weighing more than 200 kilograms each will receive data from ground stations and relay them to each other using lasers. They should fly in relatively low orbits and guarantee significantly shorter delay times compared to classical satellite communications. The first 60 satellites can not yet communicate with each other, but only with ground stations.
Conventional communication satellites are usually located in so-called geostationary orbits. This means that they are flying at the speed of the earth’s rotation and thus they are always in the same position to the earth’s surface. These satellites are at high altitudes, sometimes several tens of thousands of kilometers – this causes longer delays in the transmission of signals.
SpaceX satellites should have better response times
The Starlink satellites, on the other hand, should be on the move at a height of several hundred kilometers, which significantly shortens the response time. But they fly much faster and more satellites are needed.
Since in orbit in addition to hundreds of other satellites meanwhile also a lot of space debris is traveling, the Starlink satellites are to avoid known objects. You yourself should completely burn up when entering the atmosphere.
Other companies are pursuing similar projects. In February, for example, a Soyuz rocket launched the first six Oneweb satellites into space . It is a joint project of the aviation and defense company Airbus and the US company Oneweb, behind the Internet pioneer Greg Wyler stands.
Other projects, such as Telesat-Leo from the Canadian Telesat group, are currently in the works. There are also startups such as the US company Swarm, which build networks of mini-satellites weighing only a few kilograms. Some new players have already given up, such as Facebook with its Internet drone Aquila, which should forward signals from satellites to the ground.