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SpaceX plans to launch satellites that deliver internet
SpaceX, the Elon Musk-founded aerospace company, told Congress that it is planning to launch a network of satellites to deliver broadband internet access from space.
During a Senate Commerce hearing on Wednesday, Patricia Cooper, SpaceX's vice president of satellite government affairs, outlined the company's plans to deploy a constellation of 4,425 satellites to deliver broadband internet around the world.
According to The Verge, there are currently only an estimated 1,459 satellites in orbit around Earth.
In her written testimony, Cooper told the committee that this approach to providing internet access will reduce the amount of infrastructure needed on the ground, making it easier to bring broadband to underserved areas, like rural communities.
"In other words, the common challenges associated with siting, digging trenches, laying fiber, and dealing with property rights are materially alleviated through a space-based broadband network," she said.
SpaceX plans to launch a prototype satellite by the end of the year and another in 2018. The operational satellites will be launched from 2019 through 2024, Cooper said.
The FCC is currently considering a rule that SpaceX believes would remove regulatory obstacles to deploying internet-providing satellites. In the event that the proposal doesn't make it through the regulatory process, Cooper asked that Congress help pave the way for SpaceX by providing the company with waivers.