SpaceX forced to DELAY the launch of its first 60 Starlink satellites due to ‘excessive high winds’ as Elon Musk is forced reschedule plans for his global high-speed internet network
- SpaceX Falcon 9 is scheduled to take off at 10:30 p.m. Thursday, following delay
- Will blast off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida with 60 satellites
- This will be the first of at least 12 launches required to get Starlink network up
SpaceX has been forced to postpone its launch of the first 60 Starlink satellites.
The Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled to launch at 10:30 pm ET on Thursday (0230 GMT Friday) but was cancelled due to ‘excessive high winds’.
It comes after the planned Wednesday launch was also cancelled.
In a call with reporters before Wednesday’s countdown was halted, the high-tech entrepreneur praised the ‘fundamental goodness’ of his ambitions to expand internet connectivity globally but cautioned that success was far from guaranteed.
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Elon Musk ‘s plan to beam high-speed internet to Earth using thousands of satellites is expected to launch tonight. The CEO shared a photo on Twitter earlier in the week showing the satellites stacked for launch
Musk said he expects revenues from rocket launch services provided by his privately held Space Exploration Technologies, known as SpaceX, to top out at about $3 billion per year.
That makes Starlink key to generating the cash that SpaceX needs to fund Musk’s larger dream of developing new spacecraft capable of flying paying customers to the moon and eventually trying to colonize Mars.
‘We think this is a key stepping stone on the way towards establishing a self-sustaining city on Mars and a base on the moon,’ said Musk, who is also the chief executive officer of automaker Tesla Inc.
Each satellite in the first Starlink launch weighs 500 pounds (227 kg), making this the heaviest SpaceX payload to date.
It will take at least 12 launches of additional satellites to achieve Musk’s goal of providing constant internet coverage for most of the world, he said. Starlink is only authorized for operations in the United States.
Musk faces stiff competition. In February, Airbus SE-backed OneWeb launched its own clutch of satellites, while LeoSat Enterprises and Canada’s Telesat are also working to build data networks.
All consist of tiny satellites that orbit closer to Earth than traditional communications satellites, a radical shift made possible by leaps in laser technology and computer chips.
Musk has faced other challenges. Frustrated with the pace at which Starlink satellites were being developed, he fired at least seven members of the program’s senior management team at a campus in Redmond, Washington, outside Seattle, Reuters reported.
The SpaceX CEO shared the above photo on Twitter showing a rocket packed full with what he referred to the ‘first 60’ satellites. For scale, he also shared a photo of a Tesla Roadster inside the fairing (right) from the Falcon Heavy launch last year
Elon Musk (pictured) is behind SpaceX and its project, Starlink, which aims to launch thousands of satellites capable of providing high speed, low-latency internet
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.’
Musk said SpaceX would begin approaching customers later this year or next year. As many as 2,000 satellites will be launched per year, he said.
But he wavered on the timeline for placing as many as 12,000 satellites into orbit as the company had previously described.
WHAT IS STARLINK AND WHAT ARE ITS GOALS?
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has launched the first two of its ‘Starlink’ space internet satellites.
They are the first in a constellation of thousands of satellites, designed to provide low-cost broadband internet service from low Earth orbit.
The constellation, informally known as Starlink, and under development at SpaceX’s facilities in Redmond, Washington.
Its goal is to beam superfast internet into your home from space.
While satellite internet has been around for a while, it has suffered from high latency and unreliable connections.
Starlink is different. SpaceX says putting a ‘constellation’ of satellites in low earth orbit would provide high-speed, cable-like internet all over the world.
The billionaire’s company wants to create the global system to help it generate more cash.
Musk has previously said the venture could give three billion people who currently do not have access to the internet a cheap way of getting online.
It could also help fund a future city on Mars.
Helping humanity reach the red planet is one of Musk’s long-stated aims and was what inspired him to start SpaceX.
The company recently filed plans with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch 4,425 satellites into orbit above the Earth – three times as many that are currently in operation.
‘Once fully deployed, the SpaceX system will pass over virtually all parts of the Earth’s surface and therefore, in principle, have the ability to provide ubiquitous global service,’ the firm said.
‘Every point on the Earth’s surface will see, at all times, a SpaceX satellite.’
The network will provide internet access to the US and the rest of the world, it added.
It is expected to take more than five years and $9.8 billion (£7.1bn) of investment, although satellite internet has proved an expensive market in the past and analysts expect the final bill will be higher.
Musk compared the project to ‘rebuilding the internet in space’, as it would reduce reliance on the existing network of undersea fibre-optic cables which criss-cross the planet.
In the US, the FCC welcomed the scheme as a way to provide internet connections to more people.
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