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SpaceX wins $885M for Starlink rural broadband

SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network — which relies on hundreds of spacecraft built in Redmond, Wash. — has been awarded $885.5 million in federal subsidies to boost high-speed internet service to rural Americans.

The awards are part of a $9.2 billion allocation made under the terms of the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction.

In all, 180 bidders won subsidies that are to be paid out over the next 10 years. Only one other satellite broadband provider is on the FCC list: Hughes Network Systems, which will receive $1.3 million to serve rural sites in Rhode Island.

The FCC said the RDOF program will provide $222.8 million to support broadband service to rural communities in Washington state. SpaceX is due to get the biggest share of those subsidies, amounting to $80.4 million. Washington also leads the state-by-state list for SpaceX subsidies.

More than 5.2 million homes and businesses are expected to benefit from the program, in which funds were allocated through a reverse auction.

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Microsoft teams up with SpaceX for cloud computing

Microsoft says it’s taking the next giant leap in cloud computing, in partnership with SpaceX and its Starlink broadband satellite constellation.

“By partnering with leaders in the space community, we will extend the utility of our Azure capabilities with worldwide satellite connectivity, unblock cloud computing in more scenarios and empower our partners and customers to achieve more,” Tom Keane, corporate vice president for Microsoft Azure Global, said in a blog post.

The partnership with SpaceX is just one of the big revelations in today’s unveiling of Microsoft’s Azure Space cloud computing platform.

Microsoft also took the wraps off the Azure Modular Datacenter, or MDC, a mobile, containerized data hub that contains its own networking equipment and is capable of connecting to the cloud via terrestrial fiber, wireless networks or satellite links.

“If you choose, you can run this device completely disconnected from the rest of the world,” Bill Karagounis, general manager for Azure Global Industry Sovereign Solutions, said in a video describing the data center.

Today’s announcement builds on Microsoft’s earlier rollout of Azure Orbital, a satellite data processing platform that provides ground-station communications as a service. Azure Orbital, which is currently available in private preview, will become part of the wider Azure Space ecosystem.

The developments put Microsoft in the forefront of space-based cloud computing, alongside Amazon Web Services and its recently formed Aerospace and Satellite Solutions business unit. They’re also likely to turn cloud computing into yet another battleground for the multibillion-dollar rivalry between SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who founded the Blue Origin space venture.

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SpaceX launches Starlink and BlackSky satellites

After weeks of delay, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sent up 57 more satellites for its Starlink broadband internet constellation, with two BlackSky planet-watching satellites hitching a ride.

The launch was originally scheduled for June, but had to be put off several times due to technical concerns, weather delays and range schedule conflicts. This time around, the countdown proceeded smoothly to liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 1:12 a.m. ET Aug. 7 (10:12 p.m. PT Aug. 6).

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SpaceX sends Starlink and Planet satellites to orbit

SpaceX today launched dozens more of its Starlink broadband internet satellites, plus three piggyback satellites for Planet — marking the first of the company’s in-house rideshare deliveries to orbit.

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SpaceX software team talks up Starlink satellites

Starlink satellite
An artist’s conception shows the deployment of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites. (SpaceX Illustration)

SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation is still deep into testing mode, but it’s already generating 5 trillion bytes of data on a daily basis and getting software updates on a weekly basis.

Those are a couple of the nuggets coming from a weekend Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session featuring SpaceX’s software team.

The main focus of the online chat was SpaceX’s successful mission sending NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station in a Crew Dragon capsule — but one of the team members, Matt Monson, has moved on from Dragon to take charge of Starlink software development.

Although SpaceX’s HQ is in Hawthorne, Calif., most of the work relating to the Starlink satellites is being done at the company’s facilities in Redmond, Wash.

SpaceX tends to play its satellite cards close to the vest, in part because the process of building a satellite system is “highly proprietary” — as one of the company’s vice presidents, Patricia Cooper, said in a 2016 filing with the Federal Communications Commission. For that reason, any nuggets about Starlink’s workings are avidly sought by SpaceX’s fans as well as the occasional inquiring journalist.

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SpaceX launches eighth batch of Starlink satellites

Less than a week after sending two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, SpaceX sent 60 more of its Starlink broadband internet satellites into low Earth orbit tonight, boosting the constellation to 480 satellites.

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SpaceX seeks regulatory changes for Starlink

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 80 Starlink satellites into orbit on April 22. (SpaceX Photo)

In a new regulatory filing, SpaceX says it plans to start offering commercial broadband internet service using its Starlink satellite constellation in the northern U.S. and southern Canada by the end of this year.

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SpaceX launches Starlink satellites and sets record

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket booster executed its fourth successful launch and landing as part of a mission that put 60 more Starlink broadband internet satellites into orbit, marking the seventh such mission.

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SpaceX cleared for a million Starlink terminals

Starlink satellite
An artist’s conception shows the deployment of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites. (SpaceX Illustration)

After months of consideration, the Federal Communications Commission has granted SpaceX a license for up to a million terminals that would work on the ground with the company’s Starlink satellite constellation to deliver global broadband internet service.

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SpaceX launches sixth batch of Starlink satellites

A  Falcon 9 rocket sent SpaceX’s sixth batch of 60 Starlink broadband satellites into orbit and set a record for reusability today, but missed making yet another touchdown.

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