In Brief

SpaceX trials in-orbit broadband service

Starlink satellites should provide internet to remote communities

SpaceX has finally completed the delayed launch of a rocket carrying satellites capable of beaming wireless internet down to Earth from orbit. 

The Falcon 9 rocket was due to lift off on 17 February, but additional checks at the Vandenberg Air Force Base launch site, in California, and poor weather conditions meant the mission was postponed until yesterday. 

The two satellites on board, dubbed Tintin A and Tintin B, will trial the aerospace firm’s Starlink broadband service ahead of its expected roll-out in 2019, says Ars Technica.

The company’s “ultimate goal” is to provide wireless broadband worldwide, the website says, allowing even the most remote communities to access internet services. 

If the test proves successful, the firm will continue to launch broadband satellites over the next five years, and aims to reach “full capacity with 4,425 satellites in 2024”, Ars Technica adds. 

SpaceX co-founder Elon Musk revealed on Twitter that the two satellites would pass over Los Angeles on Friday morning,  and would attempt to beam “hello world”.

“Don’t tell anyone, but the wifi password is ‘martians’,” Musk joked. 

SpaceX is not the only firm aiming to beam broadband from the stars.

According to CNN, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and communications giant Qualcomm are backing OneWeb, a start-up that has also received approval from the US-based Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch internet satellites into orbit.

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