The American space company SpaceX launched Monday the second cluster of its future constellation of mini-satellites “Starlink”, intended to provide Internet since space and which could one day count up to 42,000 satellites. A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off without incident from Cape Canaveral, Fla., At 2:56 p.m. GMT, with a fairing on top completely filled with 60 satellites, according to a live broadcast of the launch on the site of the company created by Elon Musk.
SpaceX wants to seize a share of the future space internet market, coveted by many rivals, such as the startup OneWeb or the giant Amazon, which is much less advanced (Kuiper project). Elon Musk hopes to eventually gain 3 to 5% of the global Internet market, a share valued at $ 30 billion per year, ten times more than what he earns with his launchers. The goal: to finance the development of its rockets and spacecraft.
The boss of SpaceX dreams of colonizing Mars. The Californian company has obtained authorization from the American authorities to launch 12,000 satellites, spread over several orbits, but has submitted a frequency request for 30,000 additional satellites. Its constellation “Starlink” is to provide high speed Internet on Earth. The mini-satellites will be found at a relatively low altitude (550 km for the former), providing a fast response time.
SpaceX launched the first 60 in May, and says the constellation will be operational next year for Canada and the northern United States. According to the company, it will take 24 launches before the rest of the world is covered. Today there are just over 2,100 active satellites orbiting the Earth. The prospect of adding 42,000 in the sky creates a double concern.
On the one hand, astronomers fear that these constellations spoil telescope observations from Earth. The second concern is the congestion of low earth orbits (up to 1,500 or 2,000 km) increasing the risk of collisions between satellites.