Washington (AFP)

The US space company SpaceX launched Monday the second cluster of its future constellation of mini-satellites "Starlink", intended to provide internet from space and that could count one day up to 42,000 satellites.

A Falcon 9 rocket took off without incident from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 14:56 GMT, with a cap fully populated by 60 satellites at its peak, according to a live broadcast of the launch on the site of the company created by Elon Musk.

SpaceX wants to seize a part of the future space internet market, which is coveted by many rivals, such as the startup OneWeb or the giant Amazon, which is much less advanced (Kuiper project).

Elon Musk ultimately hopes to earn 3 to 5% of the global internet market, a share valued at $ 30 billion a year, or ten times more than he earns with his pitchers. The goal: to finance the development of its rockets and spaceships. The boss of SpaceX dreams of colonizing Mars.

The California company has obtained permission from the US authorities to launch 12,000 satellites, spread over several orbits, but has filed a request for frequency for 30,000 additional satellites.

Its constellation "Starlink" must provide a broadband internet on Earth. The mini-satellites will be at a relatively low altitude (550 km for the first ones), providing a fast response time.

SpaceX launched the first 60 in May, and says the constellation will be operational next year for Canada and the northern United States.

According to the company, it will take 24 launches before the rest of the world is covered.

Today there are just over 2,100 active satellites in orbit around the Earth. The prospect of adding 42,000 to the sky creates a double concern.

Astronomers fear that these constellations will spoil telescope observations from Earth.

The second concern is the congestion of low Earth orbits (up to 1,500 or 2,000 km) increasing the risk of collisions between satellites.

© 2019 AFP