According to new information nabbed from the FCC website by CNET, Elon Musk’s SpaceX satellite internet project is finally nearing a launch date, and it’s planned for much sooner than most would expect.
The letter as presented by the FCC states that the first two demo satellites will be launch this weekend, February 17 at 6:17 AM PT. As prototypes, they are more of a proof of concept than something that would actually be usable for the program. If all goes well, though, it could pave the way for an operational model as soon as 2019, says SpaxeX vice president of satellite affairs Patricia Cooper.
Taking off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, the two satellites named Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b will be launched using one of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets. Coming along with them will be a radar observation satellite from Spain known as Paz.
This rocket launch is part of a project known as Starlink, which hopes to utilize low-orbiting satellites to provide cheap internet services to everyone across the planet. Estimated to cost upwards of $10 billion upon completion, Musk hopes to have everything in operation by 2024 provided there are no significant delays.
In truth, however, universal internet access is not the real goal of Starlink. As Musk himself said in 2015, the purpose of the project is to eventually help fund his plan to colonize Mars. “This is intended to generate a significant amount of revenue, and help fund a city on Mars.”
With many unknowns left to be sorted out as well as plenty of chances for catastrophic failure along the way, it seems unlikely a Mars colony will be happening quite so soon. Starlink itself, though, is more than likely poised for completion within the next few decades, which is good news for people around the world hoping for more options in home internet services (despite what some internet service providers might have to say on the matter).