Elon Musk's SpaceX plans to launch the first of its experimental satellites on Sunday as part of its plan to build a space-based internet, but is unlikely to be first to offer service as the commercial space sector becomes increasingly competitive.
[ibd-display-video id=2117998 width=50 float=left autostart=true] Coming off its successful Falcon Heavy launch last week, SpaceX will use a Falcon 9 rocket to launch two satellites to test technology for a constellation of 4,500 broadband satellites. The launch is approved by the Federal Communications Commission. A Spanish radar-imaging satellite will also be part of the payload.
But SpaceX's satellite internet service likely won't be ready until 2020 or 2021, according to congressional testimony from SpaceX in October.
Meanwhile, satellite-internet company OneWeb is looking to build a network for global broadband access and plans to launch its first 10 operational satellites in May.
OneWeb founder Greg Wyler testified that customers would start receiving 500-Mbps internet connections in 2019 with second-generation satellites offering 2.5 Gbps of high-speed internet by 2021.
IBD'S TAKE:A new Space Age is dawning as billionaires like Elon Musk and Amazon's Jeff Bezos look to explore deeper into the final frontier and make space exploration and commercial development more affordable .
Blue Origin, Amazon ( AMZN ) founder Jeff Bezos' space company, is building its own New Glenn launch vehicle to deliver satellites for OneWeb, which is working with Airbus ( EADSY ) to develop the satellites.
OneWeb already has approval from the FCC for its internet plans. While SpaceX's approval is still pending, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday called on the agency to approve its satellite internet constellation.
"To bridge America's digital divide, we'll have to use innovative technologies. SpaceX's application - along with those of other satellite companies seeking licenses or access to the U.S. market for non-geostationary satellite orbit systems - involves one such innovation," he said, according to Space News .
Along with OneWeb, the FCC has also approved Telesat Canada for 117 low Earth orbit satellites, and Space Norway for two satellites.
Boeing ( BA ) also has its eyes on a satellite internet constellation and Apple ( AAPL ) is interested in the project, Bloomberg reported in April.
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