SpaceX has sought government approval to launch 4,425 satellites into Earth’s orbit in an attempt to “rebuild the internet in space”.
Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO, envisages the network providing most of the planet’s long distance internet traffic and 10% of local consumer and business traffic.
Announcing the project in January 2015, Musk said that “in the long term” the project is “like rebuilding the internet in space”.
But he added that the ultimate aim was to generate enough money to fund a city on Mars.
If it gets FCC approval, the project will double the number of satellites in Earth’s orbit and cost at least $10 billion to create.
SpaceX said in its FCC filing it hopes to launch around 800 satellites to improve internet access in the US, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
It’s designed to provide a range of services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental and professional users.
The connection will be sent through space at the speed of light, only passing through a fraction of the number of routers used to relay terrestrial internet.
SpaceX is hoping to reach speeds of up to 1 Gbps, about 200 times faster than the average user’s connection.
A date hasn’t yet been set for the first launch, but Musk expects it will take at least 12-15 years before the system is fully functioning.
The satellites will orbit just 1,150 and 1,275 kilometres from Earth and weigh 385km, less than most active satellites.
The rocket firm faced a setback in September when a rocket carrying a Facebook satellite exploded during a routine test at Cape Canaveral.