The internet was an unimaginable jump for humanity that should never be taken for granted, but honestly it kind of sucks compared to getting the internet from space. And that day will be here soon: The Federal Communications Commission just granted SpaceX the first-ever US license to set up a low-Earth orbit broadband service.
The service will be called Starlink, which is an appropriately futuristic and austere name if you ask us. SpaceX, which was co-founded by Elon Musk, applied to operate in an unused portion of the FCC-regulated broadband spectrum, according to The Verge. The satellite constellation, as it's called, will eventually be composed of 12,000 satellites, with 4,425 more to come in the next six years. The first two were launched earlier this year and the first operational satellites will be launching next year.
"Although we still have much to do with this complex undertaking, this is an important step toward SpaceX building a next-generation satellite network that can link the globe with reliable and affordable broadband service, especially reaching those who are not yet connected,” Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, told The Verge in a statement.
Part of SpaceX's hopes -- beyond how cool it is to beam the internet down from space -- is to use internet subscription costs to offset R&D expenses for other rocket-based ventures, like colonizing Mars. According to projections published by The Wall Street Journal, SpaceX is expecting 40 million subscribers to Starlink by 2025, which would mean around $30 billion in revenue.
The FCC has also approved plans from OneWeb, Space Norway, and Telesat to bring broadband internet service, which should especially help those in remote and rural areas get internet access.
h/t The Verge