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SpaceX Gets $886 Million Rural Internet Funding From FCC

SpaceX won $886 million of funding to bring Starlink internet service to rural areas as part of an FCC program.
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SpaceX won nearly $886 billion in funding from the Federal Communications Commission under a new program designed to encourage companies to extend broadband access in the most underserved U.S. areas over the next 10 years.

Within a $9.2 billion auction, the FCC gave SpaceX, run by Elon Musk, an $885.6 million contract. The Hawthorne, Calif., company is one of 180 companies that received government funds. 

SpaceX's Starlink internet service is currently in beta testing and is not yet fully operational. The service relies on an experimental network of nearly 12,000 satellites that send internet service to high-tech antennas mounted on people's homes. 

SpaceX already has launched 900 of those satellites. 

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The FCC handed out more than $9 billion in funds in its latest round, with LTD Broadband of Blooming Prairie, Minn., getting $1.3 billion, Charter Communications  (CHTR) - Get Charter Communications, Inc. Class A Report getting $1.22 billion to bring internet access to more than 1 million neighborhoods, and the Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium winning a joint bid for $1.1 billion to provide access to over 600,000 neighborhoods. 

Between 24 million and 163 million Americans don't have broadband in the U.S., the FCC and Microsoft have said, respectively, according to the Verge. 

On Monday, publicly traded space tourism company Virgin Galactic  (SPCE) - Get Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc Report jumped after the company said its SpaceShip Two Unity was mated with its delivery craft at its spaceport in New Mexico.

The Las Cruces, N.M., company plans to launch its first human spaceflight from Spaceport America on Dec. 11. It had paused those plans earlier in the year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The delivery craft, or mothership, will haul the SpaceShip Two Unity to about 50,000 feet before releasing it. A hybrid rocket engine will then thrust SpaceShip Two to the edge of space before it glides back down to the launch area.