On Thursday night Elon Musk's rocket company will try again to send the first 60 of 12,000 satellites meant to provide cheap internet for Earth into low orbit. After high winds delayed the mission Wednesday, SpaceX has again made a decision to stand down to "update satellite software and triple-check everything again".
At the proposed rate, Musk says that SpaceX plans to rapidly produce and deploy Starlink, sticking to a launch scale of 1,000 to 2,000 satellites per year. A handful of test satellites have been launched by SpaceX in the past, but nothing on this scale before - in a landmark moment for the company...
When you move to lower orbits, you need a lot more satellites to provide complete coverage of the Earth, which is why SpaceX and others are proposing new constellations numbering in the hundreds and thousands. SpaceX hasn't provided many specifics on the capabilities of Starlink, but hopefully, it can do better than existing satellite broadband solutions that can have latency of nearly a second. SpaceX hasn't talked about the performance of those satellites, but they've probably helped the company avoid software issues on its main deployment. The list price for a Falcon 9 launch is $62 million. An exact launch time has not been announced, SpaceX said it could have the launch next week.
Musk said SpaceX has "sufficient capital" to make Starlink operational but would potentially need to raise money if things go wrong with the multibillion-dollar endeavor, which he called 'one of the hardest engineering projects I've ever seen done'. SpaceX's first fleet of LEO satellites will give the company a more comprehensive grasp of the potential speeds the StarLink web of satellites could realize, plus a better understanding of technical obstacles.
A rocket with the first 60 Starlink satellites was due to blast off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 10:30 p.m. Including that tidbit in the delay announcement suggests that the company is aiming to have its satellites updated and ready by that time.
Yesterday's launch was scrubbed due to high upper level winds. As shown here, they will be launching a surprising 60 flat-packed satellites.
A previous demonstration of prototypes called Tintin A and B was carried out in February 2018 with coverage good enough to play fast response video games, Mr Musk claimed.