Spacelink satellites to be launched by SpaceX for testing ultrafast broadband

SpaceX, the rocket company of Elon Musk, is all set to launch their first two Starlink satellites for testing their proposed Gigabit broadband service. The pair of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) test satellites, the Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b, would be part of a secondary payload onboard their Falcon 9 rocket. The main payload will be the “Paz” satellite of the Spanish government. This is based on the official correspondence transpired between SpaceX and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently.

The Microsat satellites are small, measuring 1.10mX0.7mX0.7m, weighing 400kg and are scheduled for launch on 17th February, Saturday, from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California (USA). SpaceX claims that the test satellites are to “validate the design of a phased array broadband antenna communications platform”. This launch would roughly be coinciding with plans announced earlier, so keeping the 2017/18 timeline for the prototypes of SpaceX

SpaceX has plans of deploying a constellation of satellites, some 4,425, floating in 83 orbital planes, occupying altitudes ranging from 1,10 kilometres to 1,325 kilometres, around the earth, by the end of 2024. The company aims to provide and support an affordable broadband service, with fibre-like speeds, to anywhere across the world. If the tests prove successful, the first customers could get it by 2020. The first customers need to have a relatively small flat panel terminal installed atop their premises. Phased array technology will provide highly directive antenna beams for the terminal. This seems the best way to reach the digitally left out parts of our world, despite the challenges and controversy it could face.

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