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SpaceX ultimate goal is to transform humans into a multi-planet species, to fund that expensive ambition the rocket company will roll-out a broadband internet satellite service called Starlink. SpaceX engineers developed the Starlink satellites in-house, they are small compared to other satellites, look flat about the size of an office desk, featuring a single solar array. This flat type of antenna can transmit in multiple directions and frequencies without ever moving (image below). Every deployment of 60 satellites could deliver 1 Terabit of bandwith, that could potentially support 40,000 users streaming ultra-high-definition content at the same time.
The company has successfully deployed a total of 240 satellites in low Earth orbit, out of the 12,000 they aim to deploy to form the Starlink constellation internet network; that will be capable of sending its signal all around the globe, even areas where internet is non-existent. SpaceX aims to conduct 24 Starlink dedicated rocket launches carrying 60 satellites each this year, to begin offering internet connectivity to parts of Northern United States and Canada. By the end of next year in 2021, they hope to launch enough satellites to achieve global internet coverage.
On Thursday, SpaceX Starlink was approved by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to become part of the Foreign Space Objects Radiocommunicatons Determination list, which governs what services satellite companies can operate and provide to Australia. SpaceX being added to the list of satellite operators in the country is the first step in the regulatory process, "Inclusion in the determination does not confer a right on that entity to obtain a license, rather it is a prerequisite before a space apparatus license can be issued," ACMA says. If approved the company would need to get a license to use spectrum for the satellites to beam frequencies to communicate before internet service roll-out. SpaceX stated they would offer "flexibility to share that spectrum with other licensed satellite and terrestrial users" in Australia.
To receive Starlink's internet signal, customers will need to buy antennas to connect to the service. SpaceX officials previously said the terminal is about the size of a pizza box and "looks like a thin, flat, round UFO on a stick," meaning it is a circular shape antenna that is lifted up. The "Starlink terminal has motors to self-adjust optimal angle to view sky," the device's technology is advanced enough to find the signal on its own, users will not have to figure out where the Starlink constellation might be nor adjust the terminal as it moves through the sky, it would automatically move itself. They also added that setting it up would be easy. The Starlink customer would just plug it into electricity and point it at the sky with "No training required." The company has not made public what the pricing for the service would be, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said, "All I know is you will be far happier with the value of the Starlink service than you are with your current service. You will, for sure, get way more bandwidth for the same price, or way more bandwidth for less…You’ll be far happier with this. The value will be far greater.” SpaceX plans to launch another batch of 60 Starlink satellites mid-February.
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.