Starlink Launch Rescheduled for Thursday as Elon Musk Describes Global Broadband System

60 Starlink satellites inside the Falcon 9 payload fairing. (Credit: Elon Musk)

Update: SpaceX scrubbed for Thursday to update satellite software and make additional checks. Next launch attempt will be in about one week.

SpaceX was forced to cancel a Falcon 9 launch with 60 Starlink satellites on board on Wednesday night due to high upper-level winds. Tonight’s launch window opens at 10:30 p.m. EDT, or 2:30 UTC on May 17, and closes at 12:00 a.m. on May 17, or 4:00 UTC. The launch webcast will go live about 15 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com/webcast. The ground weather forecast is 90 percent go for launch.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gave a media teleconference during which he describes elements of the Starlink satellite constellation, which is designed to provide high-speed broadband and other communications on a global basis. Here are the highlights:

  • although the constellation could eventually number nearly 12,000 satellites, it would be economically viable with about 1,000 spacecraft;
  • Musk said “it looks like we have sufficient capital to get to an operational level”;
  • Starlink would be able to provide coverage to limited areas of the globe with 400 satellites, which would require a total of seven launches;
  • the constellation would be able to provide coverage for the United States with 12 launches, most of the world’s population with 24, and the entire planet with 30 launches;
  • the 60 satellites being launched are equipped with phased array antennas and ion propulsion units that use krypton instead of more expensive xenon gas;
  • the spacecraft do not have inter-satellite communications links, which will be added to future iterations of the spacecraft;
  • Starlink satellites should last four to five years in orbit before they burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere;
  • spacecraft will be able to detect and avoid orbital debris;
  • ground terminals are about the size of a small or medium pizza and use phased array, electronically steered antennas that can switch between satellites in under a thousandth of a second with a latency of under 20 milliseconds;
  • SpaceX has not signed up any customers yet, but is targeting telecommunications companies, governments, maritime industries, aviation and under served areas of the globe;
  • Musk sees Starlink as providing a revenue stream to fund SpaceX’s Starship launch system and his dream of establishing settlements on Mars;
  • annual revenues could approach more than $30 billion per year, 10 times the approximately $3 billion that the launch side of SpaceX’s business brings in; and,
  • 60 satellites weigh about 18.5 tons, which is the heaviest payload ever launched by Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy.

SpaceX Falcon 9 to Launch 60 Starlink Satellites Tonight

60 Starlink satellites inside the Falcon 9 payload fairing. (Credit: Elon Musk)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, May 15 for the launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. SpaceX’s Starlink is a next-generation satellite network capable of connecting the globe, especially reaching those who are not yet connected, with reliable and affordable broadband internet services.

The launch window opens at 10:30 p.m. EDT on May 15, or 2:30 UTC on May 16, and closes at 12:00 a.m. on May 16, or 4:00 UTC. A backup launch window opens on Thursday, May 16 at 10:30 p.m. EDT, or 2:30 UTC on May 17, and closes at 12:00 a.m. on May 17, or 4:00 UTC. The Launch webcast will go live about 15 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com/webcast.

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SpaceX to Launch 60 Starlink Satellites on Wednesday.

60 Starlink satellites inside the Falcon 9 payload fairing. (Credit: Elon Musk)

Elon Musk tweeted this photo of 60 Starlink satellites inside the fairing of a Falcon 9 rocket scheduled to launch on Wednesday from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The satellites are part of a constellation of nearly 12,000 spacecraft designed to provide fast global broadband services.

Manufacturing Teams Complete System Definition and Risk Management Phase for Telesat Constellation

Credit: Telesat

OTTAWA, Ont. and WASHINGTON, DC, May 6, 2019 (Telesat PR) – Telesat announced today that the two teams it contracted with to develop system designs for Telesat’s global low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation have successfully completed the System Definition and Risk Management Phase of the program. One of the teams is Airbus Defence and Space. The other is a consortium of Thales Alenia Space and Maxar Technologies, the owner of SSL and MDA.

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Amazon Constellation Sends Number of Planned Communications Satellites Soaring Above 20,000

F6 satellite (Credit: OneWeb)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Jeff Bezos’ Amazon has jumped into a crowded field of companies seeking to provide high-speed broadband, data and other communications services to the entire globe.

Amazon’s Kuiper constellation of 3,236 satellites brings the total number of spacecraft in the 16 announced systems to 20,241 spacecraft. The competition includes SpaceX, Boeing, Telesat, SES and government-backed companies in China and Russia.

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OneWeb to Launch Satellites on Ariane 6, Options 2 Additional Launches

Artist’s view of the configuration of Ariane 6 using four boosters (A64) (Credit: ESA – D. Ducros)

EVRY, France (Arianespace PR) — OneWeb is the developer of a new global, high-speed, low latency satellite-based network designed to address the most demanding global connectivity challenges worldwide. Ariane 6 will be available to OneWeb from the second half of 2020 to provide launch capacity that supports the full deployment and replenishment of the OneWeb constellation.

The launch service agreement specifies the use of the qualification launch of the Ariane 62 version, scheduled for the second half of 2020; the two Ariane 6 options (either in its 62 version, accommodating up to 36 OneWeb satellites, or in the 64 version, up to 78 OneWeb satellites) will be utilized starting in 2023.

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OneWeb Secures $1.25 Billion in New Funding After Successful Launch

  • New funding to start mass production of satellites
  • Combined with its successful first launch of satellites, OneWeb gains clear first mover advantage
  • New fundraising demonstrates strong investor support for OneWeb

March 18, 2019 (OneWeb PR) – OneWeb, a global communications company with a mission to bring connectivity to everyone, everywhere, announces it has secured its largest fundraising round to date with the successful raise of $1.25 billion in new capital. This brings the total funds raised to $3.4 billion. This round was led by SoftBank Group Corp., Grupo Salinas, Qualcomm Technologies Inc., and the Government of Rwanda.

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OneWeb Announces First Two Client Agreements – Start of Commercial Network Commercialisation

  • OneWeb signs major agreement with Talia to deliver broadband connectivity to Africa and the Middle East
  • First client signing with Intermatica for telecommunications services in Europe
  • Signing ceremonies with Talia and Intermatica take place at #MWC19

McLean, Va., 27 February, 2019 (OneWeb PR) – OneWeb, the global satellite-powered communications company with a mission to bring connectivity to everyone, everywhere, announces during #MWC19 that it has secured its first customer contracts to deliver its high speed, low latency, global communications services.

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Arianespace Orbits First Six OneWeb Satellites on Latest Soyuz Success

Soyuz ascends from the Spaceport in French Guiana on Arianespace’s second mission of 2019, carrying the first six satellites for OneWeb. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace played a significant role in improving global connectivity with today’s Soyuz launch that deployed the initial six satellites in OneWeb’s constellation – which will provide affordable high-speed internet access for users around the world.

The cluster of spacecraft – produced by the OneWeb Satellites joint venture of OneWeb and Airbus – was successfully deployed into a circular low Earth orbit on Arianespace’s first Soyuz mission of 2019 (and the launch services company’s second mission overall this year).

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OneWeb Launches First 6 Satellites in Global Communications Constellation

F6 satellite (Credit: OneWeb)
  • Launch of first six satellites is the first step on the path to delivering true global connectivity and bridging the digital divide
  • Launch signals the beginning of the largest satellite launch campaign in history and the transition from successful proof-of-concept to the commercialization of OneWeb

London, UK, February 28, 2019 (OneWeb PR) — OneWeb, a global communications company with a mission to bring connectivity to everyone, everywhere, today announced the successful launch of its first six broadband satellites aboard a Soyuz launch vehicle from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.

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UK Space Agency Provides $23.5 Million to OneWeb for Global Communications Constellation

LONDON (UKSA PR) — Affordable worldwide internet coverage is one step closer today, after £18 million [$23.5 million] of UK Space Agency funding was awarded to OneWeb through the European Space Agency, to aid the development of its next generation satellite constellation.

A global communications network in space, the system will be comprised of approximately 650 satellites initially and scale to more than 900 satellites over time.

Science Minister Chris Skidmore is visiting the European Space Agency in the Netherlands today. He will say:

Fast internet access is something many people take for granted but in many areas of the world connectivity is still hit and miss.

This new £18m investment will go towards meeting the significant technical challenges of the project, putting the UK at the forefront of cutting-edge research and development.

The commercial potential for a cost effective worldwide telecoms satellite system is huge, and the UK space sector is playing a leading role in delivering it. It is made possible by our ongoing commitment to the European Space Agency and our world-leading capabilities in space and telecommunications, which we are supporting through our modern Industrial Strategy.

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Blue Origin’s Powerful New Glenn Rocket to Launch Telesat’s Advanced Global LEO Satellite Constellation

Credit: Telesat

OTTAWA, Canada, January 31, 2019 (Telesat PR) – Telesat and Blue Origin have signed a multi-launch agreement that paves the way for the powerful New Glenn rocket to play a key role in Telesat’s deployment of its global LEO satellite constellation that will deliver fiber-like broadband services anywhere on Earth. Telesat’s LEO program will gain significant cost savings and other advantages by launching with Blue Origin’s heavy-lift New Glenn.

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Thales Alenia Space, Maxar Consortium Achieve Major Milestone in Design Phase of Telesat’s LEO Satellite Constellation

CANNES, France and WESTMINSTER, CO, Jan. 24, 2019 Thales Alenia Space/Maxar PR) – Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), and SSL, a Maxar Technologies company (NYSE: MAXR; TSX: MAXR), have completed an important milestone for the Telesat LEO constellation. The success of the consortium’s System Requirements Review (SRR) demonstrates increasing momentum for Telesat’s global communications system design and was highlighted by three satellite industry leaders agreeing on key innovations that will enable Telesat LEO to deliver breakthrough performance and affordability.

As previously announced, Telesat selected the consortium of Thales Alenia Space and Maxar Technologies, the owner of SSL and MDA, as one of two contractors for its LEO system design phase. The consortium, led by Thales Alenia Space, is designing an end-to-end communications system, including satellites, landing stations, user terminals, operations centers, and ground network.

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First OneWeb Satellites Arrive in Kourou Ahead of Launch

TOULOUSE, France, Jan. 22, 2019 (OneWeb PR) — OneWeb, a global communications company with a mission to provide internet to everyone, everywhere through a global satellite constellation, announced that its first satellites have successfully arrived in Kourou, French Guiana as the company prepares for its first launch on February 19th.

This achievement demonstrates the hard work and commitment of industry partners as OneWeb continues to make progress towards building the world’s first global satellite communications network in space.

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Iridium Certus Goes Live; World’s First Truly Global Broadband Service

Deployed teams, assets, autonomous vehicles, and ships can now activate this state-of-the-art connectivity platform

MCLEAN, Va., Jan. 16, 2019 (Iridium PR) — Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM) announced today the commercial launch of its Iridium Certus broadband service, the first new capability activated from the company’s $3 billion Iridium® NEXT satellite replacement program.  Iridium Certus is a unique platform designed for the development of specialty applications and is the world’s only truly global broadband service, offering on-the-move internet and high-quality voice access.  The service enables mobile office functionality for deployed teams and two-way remote communication for assets, autonomous vehicles, trains, aircraft and ships at sea.

This also includes safety-of-life services, where Iridium Certus is uniquely suited for the critical communications needs of teams operating beyond the reach of cellular coverage, including first responders and search and rescue organizations.  This announcement marks the end of an extensive global testing phase, including beta trials with live customers; the initial service is targeted at maritime and terrestrial applications, with Iridium Certus aviation solutions expected later in 2019, once certified.

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