SpaceX just got FCC approval to launch 4,425 satellites into Low Earth Orbit for a global broadband network. This could be game changing, providing affordable broadband internet to all places on Earth. The constellation might actually be practical because roundtrip communications to and from a 700 mile altitude will yield acceptable latencies similar to cable and fiber. This is 30x better than current internet-providing satellites in geostationary orbit.
Launching more satellites than the sum of all man-made satellites (not space junk) currently in space will be an incredible feat of engineering. Leave it to the the one and only company on earth that can reuse rockets, putting them at a significant cost savings advantage. They might be able to pull this off years before any other organization can.
There’s only so much room for competitors. Literally. Each satellite needs to be dozens of miles away from its neighbors to avoid collisions.
Can SpaceX get so far ahead of its competition that it’ll emerge as the owner of low earth orbit? Is this a space race for consumer internet? Will they emerge as a new monopoly, just like Comcast has done by owning your city’s utility poles?
📷: NASA's depiction of human made objects already in orbit.