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Elon Musk began shooting spree over slow satellite broadband progress

Enlarge / Elon Musk at a press conference in SpaceX on September 17, 2018 in Hawthorne, California.Getty Images | Mario…

 SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is holding a microphone.

Enlarge / Elon Musk at a press conference in SpaceX on September 17, 2018 in Hawthorne, California.

Getty Images | Mario Tama

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently “kicked at least seven” executives to accelerate the development and testing of satellites that could offer broadband around the world, Reuters reported today.

SpaceX has approved the Federal Communications Commission to launch 4,425 low-ground terrain between 201

9 and 2027 in an effort to compete against cable and fiber providers and to bring broadband to unused and underpinned areas. SpaceX also seeks FCC approval of additional 7,518 satellites. SpaceX’s goal of having Internet service available in 2020 is “pretty much on target” with a first satellite launch in mid 2019, says one of Reuters sources.

But Musk clearly stated that the Starlink project needed a management shakeup on schedule. In June, Musk flew to Seattle for meetings with engineers who led the satellite project, Reuters reported:

Within hours of landing, Musk had fire at least seven members of the program’s management team in Redmond, Washington, office, the culmination of disagreements over the pace of the team developed and tested their Starlink satellites, according to the two SpaceX employees with knowledge of the situation.

Known to drive aggressive deadlines, Musk quickly introduced new bosses from SpaceX headquarters in California to replace a number of leaders he fired. Their mandate: Start SpaceX’s first rate of US-made satellites in mid-next year, said the sources.

Musk wanted “cheaper and easier satellites”

Among the fired employees was SpaceX VP for satellites Rajeev Badyal and top designer Mark Krebs, Reuters wrote. “Rajeev wanted three more iterations of test satellites,” Reuters quoted one of his sources as saying. “Elon believes we can do the job with cheaper and easier satellites earlier.”

Reuters described a cultural conflict between Musk and employee employees from Microsoft, “where workers were used to longer development schedules than Musk’s known short deadlines.” Badyal is a former Microsoft employee, while Krebs previously worked for Google. “

The original version of Reuters history wrongly claims that another senior boss who previously worked for Microsoft left SpaceX. Reuters issued a correction to the story and SpaceX confirmed Ars that the worker is still working for SpaceX.

Reuters wrote that SpaceX “fights for hiring and retaining staff” for the Starlink project, with about 300 SpaceX employees currently working with Starlink. In January 2015, Musk said that the Redmond office responsible for the satellite project would have “several hundred people, maybe 1000 people “within three or four years.

When contacted by Ars, SpaceX gave this statement:

The SpaceX Redmond office is an essential part of the company’s efforts to build a next generation satellite network that can link the world with reliable and Affordable broadband service, which reaches those who have never been connected. Given the success of our new a Starlink demonstration satellite we have incorporated lessons learned and reorganized to enable the next design iteration to fly in short order. This is a very similar approach to rapid iteration in design and testing, which resulted in Falcon 1, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon being successful.

SpaceX launched two demonstration satellites in February.

FCC voted for another SpaceX request

SpaceX’s first satellite raid is planned to track in altitudes from 1,110 km to 1,325 km, much lower than traditional broadband satellites. The existing HughesNet satellite network has a height of approximately 35,400 km, which gives a much longer driving time than ground-based networks.

As we previously wrote, SpaceX has said that it will offer speeds up to a gigabit per second, with latencies between 25ms and 35ms. These latencies would make SpaceX’s service comparable to cable and fiber. Today’s satellite broadband services use satellites in much higher lanes and thus have latentities of 600m or more, according to Federal Communications Commission measurements.

In March, FCC approved SpaceX’s plan to launch 4,425 satellites, subject to certain conditions. The FCC approval requires SpaceX to launch 50 percent of the satellites before March 2024 and all of them in March 2027.

At its meeting on November 15, the FCC will vote for SpaceX’s request to use more frequency bands and to launch another 7,518 satellites. SpaceX has said that this second cluster of satellites will run at even lower altitudes to increase capacity and reduce latency in heavily populated areas. The FCC proposal would require SpaceX to launch 50 percent of these satellites within six years and the rest within a further three years.

FCC has also accepted requests from OneWeb, Space Norway and Telesat to offer broadband in the United States from low -Earth orbit satellites.

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