It’s been a busy year for SpaceX, with multiple launches and projects planned moving forward. The newest upcoming launch is a low-cost internet project that may provide service to people in underserved areas.
The payload of the upcoming SpaceX launch is a 3000-pound Spanish radar observation satellite called Paz, and it is planned to provide internet service with military and civilian applications around the world.
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The launch date for the low-cost internet project is targeted for February 17th, which will be the test launch of the first satellite for this global internet constellation. The project, known informally as Starlink, will hopefully provide internet in areas where it isn’t available through a satellite connection. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has expressed interest in building a more connected world. With plans for this launch dating back to 2016 and even earlier, the completion of this low-cost internet project has been hotly anticipated for quite awhile.
According to a tweet from the official SpaceX twitter account, the “Static fire test of falcon 9 [is] complete – targeting February 17 launch of Paz from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.”
Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete—targeting February 17 launch of PAZ from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 11, 2018
We haven’t seen many details about the low-cost internet project and the Paz launch outside of the initial announcement, but the business plan of the company calls for putting thousands of these satellites in orbit with limited service worldwide starting by 2020.
The Paz Satellite is named after the Spanish word for “peace” and will be launched into a 514 circular orbit. The technology was built by Airbus for the Spanish company hisdeSAT and, as mentioned above, will see both military and civilian applications.
Although we now know a potential launch date for this low-cost internet project, the fact remains that there’s still a decent amount of secrecy surrounding the impending launch and rollout of the numerous satellites planned for the future. We do know that Elon Musk wants the world to get online regardless of their location, and in order to facilitate that dream, we’ll have to see many more launches moving forward. However, if it means that more people can access the web it may be a worthwhile effort for Elon Musk and his company.
At the helm of SpaceX, Musk has pioneered private space exploration and research and has managed to provide services to NASA in addition to their many private missions. With an incredible amount of resources, SpaceX has been able to accomplish things on a scale that NASA has struggled with in recent years. With reports now coming out that NASA may receive a budget cut moving forward, there have been questions as to what the future looks like for the agency. We may see a future where the majority of space exploration, discovery, and innovation are accomplished by private businesses rather than governments, which is a stark departure from what we’ve seen previously. This low-cost internet project is a lofty goal for SpaceX, but considering the sources of the company and their track record of successful launches, it’s possible that we could soon see a world that is more connected than ever before.