SpaceX launches broadband-path finder

SPACEX

SpaceX launched again on Thursday – this time a Spanish radar satellite above the earth.

But there was a lot of interest in the mission secondary payloads – a few space ship, the Californian rocket company use, a sample of the delivery of broadband from orbit.

SpaceX has big plans in this area.

To be from sometime in the mid-2020s, it is hoped that more than 4,000 of these satellites linking every corner of the earth to the internet.

Wednesday, the flight was the first for SpaceX since the dramatic debut on 6. February of its Falcon Heavy, the world’s most powerful carrier rocket.

This time it was the turn of the smaller animal, the Falcon-9.

He lifted her clear of the Vandenberg Air Force Base on the US Pacific West coast exactly 06:17 (14:17 GMT).
The man who sent his sports car in the room
Elon Musk with the Falcon rocket rises to space
Old satellite quick disposal need to be””

AIRBUS

The exact time was necessary to ensure that the PAZ radar satellite, will be administered dispatched by the Madrid-based Hisdesat, has been in the right part of the sky.

The new earth, the observer is to team up with a German couple of satellites Tandem-X and TerraSAR-X already in orbit.

As a trio they are the image of the surface of the planet, see features smaller than 25 cm, even if it is difficult for a cloud in the way.

The ascent into orbit, and the release of the PAZ-platform lasted only 10 minutes. SpaceX made no attempt to recover the first stage booster of the Falcon 9, so that it fall into the ocean. The rocket segment had year flew last.

Of more interest to SpaceX on this occasion, the publication of the pathfinder satellite for the planned Starlink-broadband-network.

In 2016, it will be arranged an application to the Federal Communications Commission in the United States for a license for the operation of a “mesh network” in the sky, consisting of 4,425 satellite, 83 orbital plane.

These space vehicles would lay in altitude between 1,110 km, 1,325 km, and send in the Ku-and Ka parts of the frequency spectrum.

The company would also like to put a further 7,500-satellites that would sit under the first set and transmitted, the V-band.

SPACEX

The idea is that Starlink would be linked to deliver terabits of throughput, with all of the space vehicles so that bandwidth could be focused on those regions where it is most needed.

Wednesday Falcon-9 took the Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b testbed (CEO Elon Musk called them “Tim and Struppi” A & B in a tweet).

The two are identical – with a bus, or chassis, which is slightly less than 1 cu Meter, and with two 8-Meter-long solar wings; and weigh about 400 kg.

The Microsats are to prove all the various design elements, such as the antenna forward data traffic.

If all goes as it should, SpaceX, the goal is to start the deployment of the Starlink-satellite in batches in the next few years.

The Falcon Heavy with its enormous lifting power, could help to accelerate the roll-out.

At the end of the Twitter post of @elonmusk

SpaceX is not talking much about its broadband plans, but that applies to all companies with similar proposals.

Some of these companies already have path finder. Telesat Canada, for example, launched the Phase-1 LEO satellite in January. This is a prototype for the more than 100-on platforms.

Maybe the extended mega-constellation in this area of OneWeb, which will be launched 10 satellites later this year for a network that contain a minimum of 600, but could eventually include more than 2,000 spacecraft.

OneWeb is supported by the heavyweights in the space industry, such as Airbus, Qualcomm, Intelsat, Hughes, and MDA.

The rush to the push-up-this wide-band-mega-constellations has some concerns on the part of those scientists who study (space debris).

Computer models have suggested that-if it’s a solid strategy to remove old or defective satellite for these networks, the probability of collisions increases, the in-orbit together dramatically.

Jonathan.Amos-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos