Today, February 21, SpaceX is to launch two prototype orbit satellites named Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b that are the inceptive parts of Elon Musk’s mission to provide worldwide SpaceX internet service. The launch time is 9.17am ET with the primary lift-off of PAZ satellite to low earth orbit. Then will have the Falcon 9 launching with the payload of the two orbit satellites defined as experimental and non-geostationary.
Weather forecasts for the launchpad at the Vandenberg Air Force Base state 90% in favor of launch. For PAZ, it is a synthetic aperture radar satellite aimed at providing high-resolution images of earth’s surface despite clouds. Hisdesat, the Spain-based commercial satellite company is the owner and operator of PAZ.
For the internet satellites, Falcon 9’s payload will be in the first-phase mission for broadband testing. SpaceX has plans to launch a total of 4,425 small satellites in phases by 2024, according to FCC application. The company declined to go into details of the entire project, but the application says that the ‘army’ of satellites will be deployed in low earth orbit within 684 miles and 823 miles.
The project named Starlink has the purpose to bring internet to users without lag, which is why the deployment of low earth orbit is in process. Now, the satellites will be able to cover the areas of the planet better due to the closer deployment. But the areas covered will be smaller, which zeroes it down to the fact that more satellites are needed to cover the entire planet.
The plan entails a deployment of first 800 satellites of the 4,425 that will “provide initial US and international coverage for broadband services,” as written in the FCC application. It adds: “Deployment of the remainder of that constellation will complete coverage and add capacity around the world.”
Once the first flock of satellites is up and running, SpaceX will go for a bigger flock that counts to 7,518 satellites at the orbit of about 211 miles in altitude. This is termed as VLEO constellation, and its purpose is to enable “the provision of high speed, high bandwidth, low latency broadband services that are truly competitive with terrestrial alternatives.”
Falcon 9 and PAZ are vertical on Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Weather is 90% favorable for tomorrow's launch at 6:17 a.m. PST, 14:17 UTC. pic.twitter.com/bL1VjHmIhV
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 20, 2018
Alongside SpaceX, the likes of Iridium, Globalstar, and OneWeb (a direct competitor of Starlink) are as well in the race to provide global internet service, with deployments of flocks of broadband satellites. But Elon Musk’s insights in his plans still keep SpaceX way ahead of its competitors. It seems impossible to find loopholes, and a successful execution of the entire project with time is likely in the cards.
It is more evident in the social media platforms most recently being poured out with revealed photos of Mr. Steven, the fairing grabber of the company, despite SpaceX’s efforts to keep its plans secret. While a global war of connectivity service provision is gradually taking shape in tomorrow’s markets, it’s safe to wish “May the force be with you” to Elon Musk! SpaceX fans and people familiar with the Starlink project may lung out with screams that he doesn’t even need it!