SpaceX is weeks away from flying a second batch of satellites into orbit for a broadband Internet project Elon Musk is racing to set up before fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos.
Closely held SpaceX is targeting October or November for its second rocket launch for Starlink, the company’s broadband network constellation, according to president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell. SpaceX launched the first 60 Starlink satellites in May.
“We basically can close the network with 360 or 400 satellites, so roughly six launches,” Shotwell said on Tuesday at an industry conference in Paris. “Hopefully we will have six launches done in the next six months or so.”
Musk has described Starlink as a multibillion-dollar endeavour to provide broadband to much of the roughly four billion people worldwide who lack affordable, reliable Internet access. Others with similar ambitions include Amazon.com and Bezos, who runs rival rocket company Blue Origin.
In response to a report in April that summarised Amazon’s Project Kuiper, Musk called Bezos a copycat on Twitter.
On the sidelines of the Summit for Satellite Financing conference, Shotwell was more cautious. “I don’t know what their business plan is for Kuiper,” she said, when asked if Amazon was copying SpaceX. “I can’t say that yet.” — Reported by Angelina Rascouet, with assistance from Dana Hull, (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP