Aug 27, 2019

Astranis to launch satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 in 2020

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching to space. Photo: SpaceX

Satellite internet startup Astranis is planning to launch its first commercial satellite to space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2020, the company announced Monday.

How it works: The satellite is designed to improve broadband internet service in Alaska starting in March 2021.

Why it matters: Unlike SpaceX or Amazon — which plan to use many small satellites in low-Earth orbit to provide internet to large swaths of the world — Astranis is focusing its efforts on satellites that can deliver internet to relatively wide areas with one spacecraft at a time to start.

"You can get some service, effectively immediately, to the places that most need it, and really provide a focused beam of bandwidth on those places."
— Astranis CEO John Gedmark to Axios

According to Gedmark, the satellite going up next year is expected to reduce internet costs for Alaska’s Pacific Dataport and Microcom customers by up to 3 times, delivering broadband for about $100 per month or less.

  • Astranis' satellite for Alaska sits somewhere between SpaceX's Starlink satellites — which are about 500 pounds each — and huge, traditional telecommunications satellites.
  • The company hopes to eventually launch dozens more to bring broadband to underserved populations in other parts of the world.

Yes, but: Astranis plans to launch its satellites to geostationary orbit — about 22,000 miles above Earth's surface — which could create a delay in response time for customers using the internet service.

  • “If they are underserved or have no connection at all, then they just want internet as fast as possible. … Really, 95 percent of what people do in today’s world is not latency-sensitive,” Gedmark told GeekWire's Alan Boyle in January.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to fewer than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.