With SpaceX\u2019s successful launch of an initial array of broadband-internet-carrying satellites last week, and Amazon\u2019s surprising posting of numerous satellite engineering-related job openings on its job board this month, one might well be asking if the next-generation internet space race is finally getting going. (I first wrote about it was concocting with Airbus four years ago.)\nThis new batch of satellite-driven internet systems, if they work and are eventually switched on, could provide broadband to most places, including previously internet-barren locations, such as rural areas. That would be good for high-bandwidth, low-latency remote-internet of things (IoT) and increasingly important edge-server connections for verticals like oil and gas and maritime. Data could even end up getting stored in compliance-friendly outer space, too. Leaky ground-based connections, also, perhaps a thing of the past.\n\nOf the principal new internet suppliers, SpaceX has gotten farthest along. That\u2019s in part because it has commercial impetus. It needed to create payload for its numerous rocket projects. The Tesla electric-car-associated company (the two firms share materials science) has not only launched its first tranche of 60 satellites for its own internet constellation, called Starlink, but also successfully launched numerous batches (making up the full constellation of 75 satellites) for Iridium\u2019s replacement, an upgraded constellation called Iridium NEXT.\nPotential competitor OneWeb launched its first six Airbus-built satellites in February. It has plans for 900 more. SpaceX has been approved for 4,365 more by the FCC, and Project Kuiper, as Amazon\u2019s space internet project is known, wants to place 3,236 satellites in orbit, according to International Telecommunication Union filings discovered by GeekWire earlier this year. Startup LeoSat, which I wrote about last year, aims to build an internet backbone constellation. Facebook, too, is exploring space-delivered internet.\nWhy the move to space?\nLaser technical progress, where data is sent in open, free space, rather than via a restrictive, land-based cable or via traditional radio paths, is partly behind this space-internet rush. \u201cBits travel faster in free space than in glass-fiber cable,\u201d LeoSat explained last year. Additionally, improving microprocessor tech is also part of the mix.\nOne important difference from existing older-generation satellite constellations is that this new generation of internet satellites will be located in low Earth orbit (LEO). Initial Starlink satellites will be placed at about 350 miles above Earth, with later launches deployed at 710 miles.\nThere\u2019s an advantage to that. Traditional satellites in geostationary orbit, or GSO, have been deployed about 22,000 miles up. That extra distance versus LEO introduces latency and is one reason earlier generations of Internet satellites are plagued by slow round-trip times. Latency didn\u2019t matter when GSO was introduced in 1964, and commercial satellites, traditionally, have been pitched as one-way video links, such as are used by sporting events for broadcast, and not for data.\nAnd when will we get to experience these new ISPs? \u201cStarlink is targeted to offer service in the Northern U.S. and Canadian latitudes after six launches,\u201d SpaceX says on its website. Each launch would deliver about 60 satellites. \u201cSpaceX is targeting two to six launches by the end of this year.\u201d\nGlobal penetration of the \u201cpopulated world\u201d could be obtained after 24 launches, it thinks.