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We've discussed it before, but now it's tested, and you won't believe how fast this will happen! This is huge! Space X has already launched 60 Starlink broadband satellites, and just tweeted through it to announce it: Excerpts: "SpaceX is confident it can start offering broadband service in the United States via its Starlink constellation in mid-2020, the company’s president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell said Oct. 22. Getting there will require the company to launch six to eight batches of satellites, Shotwell told reporters during a media roundtable. SpaceX also has to finish the design and engineering of the user terminals, which is not a minor challenge, Shotwell acknowledged. Shotwell said SpaceX will need to complete six to eight Starlink launches — including the one that already took place in May — to ensure continuous service in upper and lower latitude bands. “We need 24 launches to get global coverage,” she said. “Every launch after that gives you more capacity.” The company caused a stir last week when it requested the International Telecommunication Union to approve spectrum for 30,000 additional Starlink satellites to build the world’s largest low-Earth orbit broadband constellation. This was in addition to 12,000 already approved by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. Shotwell said SpaceX is not certain that will need that many satellites. Far fewer are needed for global coverage but the company wants extra spacecraft to be able to offer customers customized service options. Starlink is a mesh network of satellites connected to each other by space lasers. https://spacenews.com/spacex-plans-to-start-offering-starlink-broadband-services-in-2020/ Cue naysayers, negative Musk comments, experts who've never built a mini sat or examined one, and the folks who say he'll never hit that deadline. The only thing remotely possible is that he is three to six months late. But he's gotten better - like that on-time under-budget largest battery in the world he built with Tesla energy division in South Australia that made millions in its first few months. I think it still is the largest since 2017: https://www.popsci.com/tesla-building-worlds-biggest-battery-how-it-will-work/
I've written a lot about this in the financial forum but a recap. The United Launch Alliance (ULA) was a private company formed by Lockheed and Boeing to provide US military and other launch capability. They had a monopoly for five or six years and then along came Elon Musk and Space X. First the ULA made public mocking comments that they could not develop a successful rocket engine and vehicle in the five years he said they would. Space X did and the ULA spent millions lobbying inside the beltway to keep Tesla out. They got in and had al successful launches then had one launch failure. last year. But just after we found out that the ULA chose to not correct the anti Musk forces when they said the ULA had never had a failure when in fact Boeing/Lockheed/ULA had been directly involved in the Columbia disaster. But that wasn't the big shocker. After Musk sued he got some contracts and that great record of the ULA? We found out that they did not manufacture their own engines, they were buying them from Russia. No one realized that they put our national interests in space, the current critical defense and offense arena, in the hands of Putin. Well Putin did not like our stance on the Ukraine and he put an embargo on sales of space engines to the US - no more rocket engines for us. The ULA is out or almost our of engines. They gave one to Orbital sciences for their successful flight after their crash. Teslas continued using their own engines, and they are the only ones not using Russian engines in the US. It takes at least three years after a new launch vehicle engine combination is fully developed before it can be certified for critical US military and national interest launches. I don't know if the ULA has even begun to build or contract a US engine. I doubt they will swallow their pride and buy falcon engines from Musk. So had it not been for Musk and his privately held Space X, we would not be able to launch at all for the next three to five years. So now Space X has the monopoly save any spare engines still in stock. I heard they had two possible three engines left from the last buy from Russia. I can't believe they did that. Ok Musk and Space X just won the contract for the military flights because they came in at 50% of what the ULA could launch for. But that is really moot since they have no engines anyway. Bear all that in mind as you read this fantastic article: Excerpt: [bracketed comments are "added" by me] "Announced on Wednesday, SpaceX said the National Security Space (NSS) launch services contract is for Global Positioning System (GPS) III Launch Services, in which the Falcon 9 rocket will be used to launch a GPS satellite into space. The total value of the contract is $82.7 million, which will cover vehicle production, mission integration, and launch operations and spaceflight certification. The contract has now broken up the space monopoly. Rival firm United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing, is the developer of the Atlas and Delta launch systems which have been used in over 1,300 missions over the past 50 years. Until now, ULA has dominated this area of space,[using Russian engines not their own] but SpaceX may now be considered a worthy commercial rival for the attention of governments, military and space projects. GPSIII represents next-generation satellites which are used for both military and civilian purposes. The satellite will provide anti-jamming capabilities as well as improved accuracy and movement. SpaceX's average cost for launch is $61.2 million, as noted by Popular Science. In comparison, ULA -- which dropped out of the running as it was unable to meet SpaceX's bid in price -- needs $225 million to launch a satellite. [and because they can't get any more Russian rocket engines.] The whole article with links to related stories is here: http://www.zdnet.com/article/spacex-secures-first-major-military-contract/?tag=nl.e539&s_cid=e539&ttag=e539&ftag=TRE17cfd61 Note: Space X is now the largest private manufacturer of rocket engines in the world. Go USA!