SpaceX’s big ambitions

SpaceX’s big ambitions
The US Federal Communications Commission has approved SpaceX’s application to allow the aerospace company to provide broadband services using..

The US Federal Communications Commission has approved SpaceX’s application to allow the aerospace company to provide broadband services using satellites in the U.S. and across the world.

Background

Elon Musk is a South African-born Canadian American business magnate, investor and inventor. He is listed by Forbes as the 53rd richest person in the world. As of January 2018, his net worth was $20.9 billion. Best known as the Founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, a private aerospace manufacturing and space transport services company, Musk is known for his aspiration to enable the colonisation of Mars, and reduce costs of space travel within the next two decades. 

SpaceX was the first privately funded company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft. It was certified for military launches in 2015. The company currently flies missions to the International Space Station under a cargo resupply contract with NASA. In 2017 alone, SpaceX launched 18 crafts.

Zuma is a high-secrecy satellite commissioned by the US government. It was launched by SpaceX on its Falcon 9 rocket in January 2018. Zuma was reportedly built by American global aerospace and defence technology company Northrop Grumman.

Falcon Heavy, one of SpaceX’s most recent missions, was launched from the Kennedy Space Centre on the 6th of February. Falcon Heavy is a reusable super heavy-lift launch vehicle. At $90 million per launch, it is capable of carrying double the capacity of the second most powerful rocket in the world, at one third the cost. The livestream of the launch event was watched by 2.3 million live viewers.

Analysis

Marked by high expectations, SpaceX has had to deal with some public failures in the recent months. The launch of the Zuma satellite proved to be unsuccessful just days after the launch. Additionally, in the case of the Falcon Heavy satellite, only one of three engines on the centre booster ignited during its descent. This resulted in it hitting the water next to the droneship at a speed of over 480 km/h (300 mph). However, despite recent setbacks, the company has continued to push forth its ambitious space plans. In March 2018, a used SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched 10 new communications satellites into orbit.

Reports have now emerged that the US Federal Communications Commission has approved SpaceX’s application to allow the aerospace company to provide broadband services using satellites in the U.S. and worldwide. Thus, the company will now be able to build a global broadband network using satellites.

“This is the first approval of a U.S.-licensed satellite constellation to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies,” the Federal Communications Commission said in a statement. The FCC said that the system proposed by SpaceX will use 4,425 satellites. "With this action, the Commission takes another step to increase high-speed broadband availability and competition in the United States," the FCC added.

In addition, America’s Federal Aviation Administration has revealed that SpaceX will be launching a Falcon 9 rocket on April 2 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. “The rocket will carry a communications satellite,” the FAA said.

"We appreciate the FCC's thorough review and approval of SpaceX's constellation license. Although we still have much to do with this complex undertaking, this is an important step towards SpaceX building a next-generation satellite network that can link the globe with reliable and affordable broadband service, especially reaching those who are not yet connected," Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer at SpaceX said in a statement.

Assessment

Our assessment is that under the stewardship of Elon Musk, SpaceX continues to push for ground breaking projects. If this is successful, SpaceX will make broadband even more accessible to people around the world and increase speeds exponentially.

Read more: Future of Space X

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