Elon Musk confirms ambitions to launch Internet satellites

SpaceX CEO reveals the company is in the early stages of building micro-satellites intended to deliver low-cost Internet access around the world.

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Steven Musil
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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is working to build and deploy lightweight satellites. CBS

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk confirmed Monday that the company is working toward constructing and deploying a fleet of advanced satellites that will be used to deliver low-cost Internet access around the globe.

Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla Motors and chairman of Solar City, revealed in a tweet from his personal account that SpaceX is "in the early stages of developing advanced micro-satellites operating in large formations."

Musk's tweet was thin on details but promised a formal announcement in the next few months.

A follow-up tweet responding to a question posed to Musk confirmed the purpose of the venture is to provide "certainly" unfettered Internet access "at very low cost."

SpaceX is still in the early stages of developing advanced micro-satellites operating in large formations. Announcement in 2 to 3 months.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 11, 2014

The tweet follows a The Wall Street Journal report that SpaceX is working to construct and launch a fleet of up to 700 satellites, each weighing less than 250 pounds, that would beam Internet access across the globe. Tech companies Facebook and Google are working on similar goals. Facebook said in March it was exploring how to use " drones, satellites, and lasers to deliver the Internet to everyone," while Google was reportedly planning to spend more than $1 billion to deploy hundreds of low-Earth orbit satellites to provide Internet access to under-served regions of the globe.

Musk is said to be collaborating on the effort with former Google executive Greg Wyler, founder of WorldVu Satellites, which controls a significant chunk of the radio spectrum. Wyler's expertise and spectrum advantage coupled with Musk's experience launching payloads to the International Space Station could enable SpaceX to halve the weight of the standard satellite. The duo also hopes to cut the cost of satellites from many millions of dollars per unit to under $1 million per unit, according to the Journal.

However, Musk said in an additional tweet that the Journal's report " was wrong on several important points," but he didn't elaborate.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to a CNET request for additional information.