SpaceX has been granted approval by the US Federal Communications Committee (FCC) to launch an extra 7,518 satellites, in addition to the 4,400 already approved, as part of the company’s ambitious Starlink plan.
Billionaire Elon Musk's private rocket company intends to build a constellation of communication satellites in an attempt to provide high-speed internet to the entire planet. The satellites would beam down wireless internet from low-Earth orbit, with extremely low latency routing.
“I’m excited to see what these services might promise and what these proposed constellations have to offer,” said FCC chairman Ajit Pai.
“Our approach to these applications reflects this commission’s fundamental approach to encourage the private sector to invest and to innovate and allow market forces to deliver value to American consumers.”
SpaceX has previously said the satellites would be launched periodically through 2024, with an initial launch planned for mid-2019. The company's goal of having the internet service available by 2020 is reportedly on target.
The company launched its first test satellites in February, and received approval for 4,400 satellites a month later.
However, SpaceX isn't the only company racing to establish an internet service in low orbit, the FCC also approved hundreds of satellites from three other companies; Kepler, Telesat and LeoSat.
And Musk is feeling the pinch, apparently, with the entrepreneur reportedly firing a number of managers of the Starlink project due to the slow pace of their work.
Using satellites for communications has been in place for many years, but providing a reliable internet service has so far proven tricky. The technology used has been slow and high-cost, due to their distance from earth. Starlink, and a number of other companies, are seeking to capitalise on the opportunity to create an "internet blanket" for earth.
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