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Starlink satellites ahead of deployment in space. Photo: SpaceX

Despite an uncertain market, companies are moving forward in their plans to launch thousands of internet-beaming satellites to low-Earth orbit — and some are already facing setbacks.

Why it matters: SpaceX, Amazon, OneWeb and others are betting big on these global broadband constellations in the hopes that the fleets of small satellites will help tap them into underserved markets and increase their bottom lines.

  • However, it's not yet clear which companies will be able to gain a foothold and actually make their plans profitable.

What's happening: On Monday, SpaceX launched its second batch of 60 Starlink satellites to orbit.

  • The company expects to be able to provide Starlink coverage to people in Canada and the northern parts of the U.S. as early as next year, with full, global coverage to follow after about 24 launches.
  • OneWeb announced the delay of the launch of a clutch of its satellites from December to January in order to further test the spacecraft.
  • Another company, Telesat, is now expected to choose a manufacturer for its broadband constellation in early 2020 instead of this year as initially expected.
  • For its part, Amazon’s Project Kuiper has filed with the FCC to get going with its own constellation.

Yes, but: While analysts agree there are millions of people around the world who could benefit from better access to broadband, it's not yet clear that these constellations will be the best way to deliver it.

  • Safely flying hundreds or even thousands of satellites in tandem is technically difficult, and it's unclear how expensive the broadband service provided by these constellations — which will likely cost billions of dollars to build — will be for consumers.
  • "We don't know how big the market is for consumer broadband, but it may not be much bigger than we have today," technology consultant Tim Farrar told Axios.

Go deeper: Satellite startup snags funding for "cell towers in space"

Go deeper

First look: Mayors press Biden on immigration

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A coalition of nearly 200 mayors and county executives is challenging Joe Biden and the incoming Congress to adopt a progressive immigration agenda that would give everyone a pathway to citizenship.

Why it matters: The group's goals, set out in a white paper released today, seem to fall slightly to the left of what the president-elect plans to propose on Inauguration Day — though not far — and come at a time of intense national polarization over immigration.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
1 min ago - Health

Demand for coronavirus vaccines is outstripping supply

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Now that nearly half of the U.S. population could be eligible for coronavirus vaccines, America is facing the problem experts thought we’d have all along: demand for the vaccine is outstripping supply.

Why it matters: The Trump administration’s call for states to open up vaccine access to all Americans 65 and older and adults with pre-existing conditions may have helped massage out some bottlenecks in the distribution process, but it’s also led to a different kind of chaos.

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.