SpaceX CEO Elon Musk speaks at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
Michael Sheetz | CNBC
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk shared a first Saturday look at his company's Internet satellites, packed and ready for launch in a few days.
These satellites represent SpaceX's ambitious plan to build a satellite network via the internet, known as Starlink. The company is one of many, including the Amazonia of Jeff Bezos, who is building these so-called "constellations" of interconnected satellites to provide high-speed internet from space.
"These are production designs, unlike our early TinTin demo demos," Musk said in a series of tweets, adding that it is a "tight fit" to have all 60 on top of a single SpaceX rocket.
The complete Starlink network would consist of 11,943 satellites flying close to the planet, closer than the International Space Station, in what is known as the low Earth orbit.
Little is known about the SpaceX Starlink system, apart from the tidbits collected from public documents and the employees leaving the program. Musk fired the head of the Starlink program last year, four months after SpaceX launched its first two Starlink test satellites. Musk then blamed SpaceX's layoffs in January, partly because of Starlink, one of the two "absolutely crazy projects" of the company.
"SpaceX needs to be incredibly basic with the costs until these programs reach fruition," Musk said in January.
Starlink technology is a strictly secret secret while the competition is heating up among at least half a dozen other companies, from the Canadian Telesat to the newcomer Amazon. But in recent months, documents deposited by SpaceX with the Federal Communications Commission have given an idea of the company's plans. The first part of the network will operate in a "very low earth orbit".
In a letter to the FCC, SpaceX said that satellites are now designed to be "completely breakable" when they come back and burn in the Earth's atmosphere. SpaceX said this means that there is a "zero" risk every piece of Starlink will hurt anyone on the ground after the satellites have been used. SpaceX also presented an application this year to manage 1 million "ground stations" in the United States.
Musk warned in a subsequent tweet that "most likely it will go wrong" on this first mission.
SpaceX will need "6 launches in more than 60" launch satellites to get "less coverage" for the internet, said Musk. A dozen launches, or 720 satellites, are needed for "moderate" coverage, "he added.