SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said the company’s plan to launch 4,000 internet-beaming satellites into space is “very speculative,” just a few months after the failed launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.
Shotwell broke the news at the Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia conference in Hong Kong Tuesday.
Elon Musk petitioned the Federal Communications Commission over the summer to launch eight prototypes into space, with the goal of eventually launching 4,000, CNN Money reported. Musk planned to test the satellites, which would orbit at 750 miles above the earth’s surface to beam the Internet, starting early 2016.
Google and Fidelity provided $US1 billion in funding for the project.
But Shotwell said that there’s “not a lot of effort going into” that plan, Motherboard reported.
“Certainly I think that from a technical perspective this could get done,” she said at the event. “But can we develop the technology and roll it out with a lower-cost methodology so that we can beat the prices of existing providers like Comcast and Time Warner and other people? It’s not clear that the business case will work.”
Musk did note that SpaceX is proceeding with caution with their internet-beaming satellite plan at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference in July. But, even then he said the hope was to launch a satellite in 2016.
“We want to be really careful about how we make this thing work, and not over-extend ourselves,” Musk said at the time. “I don’t want to overplay or overstate at this early stage.”
The announcement of the delay comes a few months after SpaceX’s Falcon 9 suffered a failure about two minutes after liftoff June 28. Shotwell said the rocket will return to flight in December.
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