The first test satellites for SpaceX’s global internet constellation are being prepped for launch as early as this week — three years after SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveiled the project in Seattle.
The prototype spacecraft, known as Microsat 2a and 2b, are reportedly to be included as secondary payloads on a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, due for launch on Feb. 17. The primary payload is a 3,000-pound Spanish radar observation satellite called Paz.
SpaceX conducted a static-fire test of the Falcon 9, which makes use of a previously flown first-stage booster, at Vandenberg today. The test involved briefly firing up the booster’s rocket engines as a rehearsal for liftoff.