Elon Musk just gave us the first look at his rocket company's bold plan to bring ultra-high-speed internet to the entire world.
Musk posted a photo on Twitter, featuring the first 60 production satellites packed into the fairing of a Falcon 9 rocket ahead of their launch this coming week. Musk warned that there might be issues since this is the first proper Starlink mission following an early 2018 launch that sent two demo satellites skyward. Musk remarked that the first 60 satellites are expected to launch on Wednesday.
Tightly packed into the rocket's school bus-sized fairing will be 60 Starlink satellites, which will help kick off the company's entrance into the telecommunications business.
The duo seemed to perform well, according to Musk and SpaceX investors, though the company did end up keeping the satellites in a lower orbit than originally planned.
Musk first announced the idea in 2015 and aims to build up a fleet of almost 12,000 satellites. SpaceX has been ramping up fundraising in preparation for that and another high-profile project.
If the iconoclastic entrepreneur meets his goals, internet users around the world could see internet speeds that are around 40 times faster, no matter where they live.
In April, US regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved SpaceX's plan to launch 4,409 Starlink satellites with 1,584 orbiting at an altitude of 550km rather than the previous request of 1,150km. The rocket company previously launched two of the experimental satellites in late February. "Tight fit", he tweeted late on Saturday.
Musk also shared a game plan for SpaceX moving forward. He noted that "much will likely go wrong" as they are deployed and that it will take six more launches of additional Starlink satellites to achieve even "minor" broadband coverage and 12 more launches to achieve "moderate" broadband coverage. SpaceX has said it aims to have internet coverage available starting in 2020.
POT SMOKING, Grimes snogging, possible-alien vehicle salesman Elon Musk has revealed his next big idea to fix mankind - an array of satellites that will girdle the globe to provide a global WiFi hotspot. Musk was famously fined $20 million by the SEC for claiming that he might take Tesla public at $420 a share. Musk hopes to launch a total of 12,000 satellites.