Watch SpaceX launch the first 60 Starlink internet satellites into orbit

SpaceX is launching 60 satellites into space

SpaceX is launching 60 satellites into space

At 10:30 p.m. EST, a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket transporting the Starlink internet satellites will blast off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Space.com reported. At stake is the chance to be one of the world's largest Internet providers by building the architecture in space, giving WiFi access to billions of people without it.

In its final form, Starlink will consist of almost 12,000 satellites - six times the number of all operational spacecraft now in orbit - in several orbital "shells".

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wants to bring speedy broadband to the world, providing a megaconstellation of satellites that swarm around the Earth like a flock of internet-capable pigeons looking for some bread.

The Starlink payload is 230 feet high and weighs 18.5 tons, making it the heaviest load the company has ever attempted to launch.

The Federal Communications Commission initially authorized SpaceX to launch and operate a constellation of 4,425 non-geostationary orbit satellites in March of a year ago, then approved an additional 7,518 in November.

The first group of up to 1,584 Starlink satellites will operate in orbits 341 miles above Earth.

Furthermore, there is concern from some quarters that the upcoming launches of large satellite batches by SpaceX-and others pursuing similar aims, such as European company OneWeb-could increase the risk of risky collisions and space debris.

"Then you have thousands of new satellites without a plan of getting them out of there".

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launches from Cape Canaveral (below).

Musk said SpaceX would begin approaching customers later this year or next year. The idea is to put up tiny satellites that stay in orbit much closer to home.

The US Federal Communications Commission has approved 13,000 new satellites in the a year ago - six times more than the figure now in orbit. Mark Juncosa, SpaceX's vice president of vehicle engineering, said 12 Starlink launches would ensure coverage of the United States. It could even set SpaceX up to beat out competitors like Amazon and SoftBank-backed OneWeb, which each want to form internet constellations of their own.

Musk said Starlink's newest 60 satellites carry phased array antennas and ion propulsion units that run on krypton instead of the typical xenon gas. But SpaceX's satellites would be equipped with thrusters and be able to autonomously maneuver around the debris and avoiding collisions, Musk said.

Musk said his company has a similar goal to connect the disconnected. And SpaceX faces significant funding challenges, said Tim Farrar, the founder of Telecom, Media and Finance Associates.

Nicholas Johnson, the chief scientist for Orbital Debris, said: "Any of these debris has the potential for seriously disrupting or terminating the mission of operational spacecraft in low Earth orbit".

Musk said Starlink terminals, leveraging work by SpaceX's "chip team", can switch between satellites in under a thousandth of a second, and will support a system where the overall latency is under 20 milliseconds. Starlink revenue would also help fund a base on the moon, he said.