SpaceX begins planning a 4,000 satellite internet constellation

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

The competition heats up: SpaceX has filed papers with the FCC to begin testing the design and construction and launch of a constellation of 4,000 satellites for providing global internet access.

Musk’s FCC filing proposes tests starting next year. If all goes well, the service could be up and running in about five years. The satellites would be deployed from one of SpaceX’s rockets, the Falcon 9. Once in orbit, the satellites would connect to ground stations at three West Coast facilities. The purpose of the tests is to see whether the antenna technology used on the satellites will be able to deliver high-speed Internet to the ground without hiccups.

It appears to me that Musk’s constellation will be made up of cubesats, small and cheap to build, and easy to launch in large numbers as secondary payloads on every Falcon 9 launch. In other words, as long as SpaceX can get customers to pay for launches of large satellites on its Falcon 9, Musk will be able to launch and maintain his constellation of cubesats for free.


  • Maurice Levie

    at way higher orbits than the self-decaying ones we have now

  • pzatchok

    Actually at very low orbits.

    Current Telecommunication sats are now at hundreds if not thousands of miles away in very high orbits. Thus they have Very long lag times.

    The new Sats will be in very low orbits, maybe 30 miles, trying to remove that lag time and making it easy for eventually and hopefully hand held devices to connect.
    One of the problems is that the Satellites will be passing overhead and not be in stationary orbits and thus need to pass off connections between themselves much like Cell towers do now as you drive around.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *