Musk: 640 satellites needed

More details are emerging about the Elon Musk/Greg Wyler plan for hundreds of orbiting satellites. WorldVu Satellites has issued invitations quote to satellite builders for a 640-satellite constellation.

Each satellite would weigh 125 kg and orbit at 1200 km above the Earth’s surface. The invitations to quote (“Request for Proposals”) are expected to be finalised by mid-December. One unusual twist is that the suppliers then have to agree to a joint-venture manufacturing facility that will be owned in part by WorldVu.

Billionaire Elon Musk is now behind the project and has Tweeted that he will give more information in the a few months. The project is said to be budgeted at about $1.5 billion.  Each mini-satellite should b e capable of handling about 14 gigabits/second of data.

WorldVu is officially based in the Channel Islands, a tax-haven. Greg Wyler was the founder of O3b, a not dissimilar constellation of satellites now in orbit, and 46 percent owned by Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES.

But challenges remain for WorldVu. As well as finding the cash to build and launch the craft, it is obliged to start launching the satellites no later than 2019, and this timetable is extremely tight.

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