Teledesic is a communications system designed to provide broadband and Internet access, videoconferencing, and high-quality voice and other digital data services through a constellation of 288 satellites in low Earth orbit. The Teledesic Network consists of terminals that interface between the satellite network and terrestrial end-users, network gateways, network operations and control systems that perform network management functions, and a space segment that provides the communication links and switching among terminals. Teledesic's space-based network uses fast-packet switching to provide seamless, global coverage. Each satellite is a node in the fast-packet-switch network and communicates through crosslinks to other satellites in the same and adjacent orbital planes. Communications are treated within the network as streams of short, fixed-length packets. Each packet carries the network address of the destination terminal, and each node independently selects the least-delay route to that destination. The Teledesic Network is planned to begin operations in 2003. Teledesic 1, the first satellite in the constellation was launched on February 26, 1998, by a Pegasus XL from Vandenberg Air Force Base.