SpaceX wants to bring broadband to the world

And it plans on using a record-breaking number of satellites to do so...

SpaceX wants to bring broadband to the world

Elon Musk. Picture by Dan Taylor / Heisenberg Media via Wikimedia Commons

SpaceX is looking to lead the pack when it comes to satellite-based internet services, and it plans to dominate the skies to do so.

Elon Musk's rocket firm has sought permission from the US Federal Communications Commission (FFC) to launch a network of 4,425 satellites into orbit. The California company would then use this network to provide high-speed internet to not just the US market, but the world at large. 

Musk had first announced the project – "larger than anything that has been talked about to date" – in January 2015, stating that it would cost at least $10 billion to get off the ground. 

If it gets permission, the number of active SpaceX satellites will far outnumber all others currently orbiting the Earth.

There are 1,419 active satellites in operation above us at the moment, with an estimated 2,600 defunct satellites still in orbit.

According to papers filed on Tuesday, the SpaceX models would be significantly smaller than your average satellite. Roughly the size of a Mini Cooper, they would weight approximately 850 lbs (386 kg). They would settle at an altitude between 715 miles (1,150 km) to 790 miles (1,275 km) – above the International Space Station but below geostationary satellites – and cover an ellipse of 1,300 (2,120km) each.

While it has prototypes ready to launch for next year, the satellite constellation itself would not become a reality until the turn of the decade. 

SpaceX are competing in the field with the likes of Boeing, Intelsat (OneWeb) and Telesat.

The company said in a statement:

"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."