SpaceX is set to launch the first set of its Starlink internet satellites this week after failing to do so last May 15.
Sixty of the spacecraft will be placed aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, which will blast off into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Thursday, May 23.
The satellites were supposed to be delivered last Wednesday, but it was canceled because of high winds at the launch site. SpaceX
also called off another attempt the following evening to conduct additional checks and update the spacecraft's software.
"Standing down to update satellite software and triple-check everything again," the space company said
. "Always want to do everything we can on the ground to maximize mission success."
Space fans can catch the webcast of the Starlink launch via SpaceX's website or through the company's official YouTube channel.
SpaceX's Starlink Megaconstellation
The Starlink satellites
are part of SpaceX's program for a new high-speed internet service. The plan started
as early as 2015 when CEO Elon Musk sought permission from the Federal Communications Commission to test his idea for a "global broadband" system.
In 2017, he filed applications for Starlink, which was described as a low-cost, satellite-based broadband system that can provide internet access across the world.
To carry out this plan, Musk said SpaceX will have to launch at least 400 satellites to be able to have "minor" internet coverage and at least 800 satellites for "moderate" coverage.
The Starlink megaconstellation could even grow exponentially in the coming, with estimates reaching up to 12,000 internet satellites, according to SpaceX.
This week's scheduled launch will be the second time SpaceX sent Starlink-related spacecraft into orbit. In 2018, the space company sent a Falcon 9 rocket with its prototype satellites named Tintin A and Tintin B.
The two satellites served as the secondary payloads aboard the spaceflight, while the Earth-imaging radar satellite named Paz was the primary payload.
Musk said the 60 Starlink satellites will be identical to the version set for mass production. The only difference will be that this first batch will not have the capability to communicate with each other while they are in orbit.
The billionaire entrepreneur pointed out
that the technology involved in the satellite megaconstellation plan is new, so there is a possibility that some of them might not work. There is even a "small possibility" that none of the spacecraft will work.
SpaceX will need to launch six more Starlink space missions to be able to provide consistent internet coverage to some parts of the world, according to Musk. The company will need 12 more missions to be able to cater to a larger global audience.
The Race For Satellite Constellations
If everything goes smoothly, Thursday's launch could allow SpaceX to take the lead in the race for satellite constellations. The company's chief rivals, Jeff Bezos's Amazon
and the SoftBank-backed OneWeb, are also in the running to provide satellite-based internet broadband service to the world.
In fact, OneWeb has already launched several of its internet satellites from French Guiana into space back in February.
Other companies, such as LeoSat Enterprises and Telesat, have also begun working on new data networks that will make use of thousands of smaller satellites in low Earth orbit.