SpaceX plans to boost Starlink network with launch

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ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 14 (UPI) — SpaceX plans to launch 60 more of its Starlink communications satellites from Florida on Sunday night as the company expands sales of the broadband internet service those satellites provide.

Liftoff on a Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled for 11:20 p.m. EST, but the U.S. Space Force forecasts a 60% chance that storm clouds or a threat of lightning that could cause a postponement.

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Elon Musk‘s Starlink operation has about 1,000 active satellites in orbit, and has implemented part of its planned network on Earth, while competitors for broadband service dependent on satellites in low-Earth orbit have yet to start sales.

That includes London-based OneWeb, which has launched 110 satellites with a goal for 648 during its first phase.

Also, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is building out plans for another network, called Kuiper, which has not held a launch yet.

And longtime satellite company Telesat, based in Ottawa, Canada, announced Tuesday it would build a new network, called Lightspeed, with 298 satellites providing service by 2023.

Starlink is taking limited orders of its Internet service in a growing territory, including parts of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. For a Central Florida address, for example, the Starlink website said service is anticipated in middle to late 2021.

The cost is $ 499 for hardware, $ 99 a month for service and $ 50 for shipping and handling.

“Availability is limited. Orders will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis. You will receive a notification once your Starlink is ready to ship,” according to the website.

Musk has said on Twitter that he may spin off Starlink as a public company, but only after it has robust cash flow and long-term viability.

“SpaceX needs to pass through a deep chasm of negative cash flow over the next year or so to make Starlink financially viable,” Musk posted Tuesday. “Every new satellite constellation in history has gone bankrupt. We hope to be the first that does not.”

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Crew-1 lifts off from Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

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