It’ll require a couple of extra years—and hundreds of extra satellites—earlier than SpaceX’s Starlink web constellation achieves full performance, however that didn’t cease Elon Musk from collaborating in an early take a look at of the system, which apparently labored.

Late final evening, Elon Musk announced on Twitter that he was sending a “tweet through space via Starlink satellite.” A couple of minutes later he replied to the tweet, saying: “Whoa, it worked!!”

Not dangerous, contemplating the constellation presently consists of simply 60 satellites, of which three aren’t even working (not an important attrition price, however that’s one other story). Back in May, when a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket deposited the smallsats at an altitude of 400 kilometers (250 miles), Musk mentioned the system wouldn’t be of a lot use till the constellation reaches round 400 items and that it received’t attain “significant operational capacity” till 800 satellites. But as Musk’s tweet suggests, some performance presently exists.

Once the system goes on-line in some unspecified time in the future through the 2020s, Starlink will hopefully present low-price broadband web to nearly each location on Earth, regardless of how distant. Parked in low Earth orbit, the cross-linked satellites will create a sort of shell across the globe, offering web entry to paying prospects on the bottom.

Musk expects Starlink to be “economically viable” at 1,000 items, however the non-public aerospace firm plans to launch as many as 12,000 satellites, every of which weighs round 500 kilos (227 kilograms). Actually, the system may comprise much more than that, given SpaceX’s latest request to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to launch an extra 30,000 satellites.

When the primary batch of Starlink satellites launched in May, they appeared as a brightly lit practice within the sky. This deployment, and the prospect of many extra, is a priority to astronomers, who fear that smallsat constellations will intervene with scientific observations of house.

Experts additionally fear that Starlink and different proposed constellations, together with these within the works by Amazon and OneWeb, may enhance the possibilities of a collision in house. These fears have been bolstered this previous September when the European Space Agency needed to carry out a “collision avoidance manoeuvre” to forestall its Aeolus satellite tv for pc from doubtlessly smashing right into a Starlink satellite tv for pc.

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