SpaceX met with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week to discuss its second-generation Starlink infrastructure called ‘Gen2 System’. “During the meeting, SpaceX provided an update on the deployment of its satellite system and the rapid development of its Gen2 constellation,” the company stated. SpaceX told FCC representatives that it already serves 140,000 Starlink users across 20 countries, including rural regions located in: United States, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.
The Gen2 System is designed to serve more Starlink consumers globally with the long-term goal of providing internet download speeds at 1Gbps and then increase to 10Gbps (Gigabits per second) – that’s fast! For perspective, 1Gbps is equal to 1,000Mbps (Megabits per second), the approximate 1,800 satellites in Low Earth Orbit are currently capable of beaming internet with download speeds ranging from 100Mbps to 200Mbps. SpaceX also plans to achieve low-latency internet of 20 milliseconds.
To accomplish this significant increase in speed, SpaceX plans to launch approximately 20,000 internet-beaming satellites over the next seven years. All next-gen satellites are equipped with inter-satellite communication laser links which enable a much faster data transfer because light travels at a faster speed in the vacuum of outer space than through fiber-optic cables underground. “Inter-satellite laser communications means Starlink can carry data at speed of light in vacuum all around Earth before touching ground,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk explained. Currently, the Starlink satellites directly receive data from terrestrial ground stations but once more satellites with laser links are deployed they will not need to directly communicate with the stations. –“Over time, some amount of communication can simply be from one user terminal to another without touching the Internet [data ground stations],” Musk said.
SpaceX’s Gen2 System plans are facing opposition from satellite broadband competitors, including Amazon. Amazon plans to deploy the Kuiper broadband constellation, it is urging the FCC to reject SpaceX’s proposals. Over the Summer, SpaceX submitted a pair of proposals to the FCC that outline two different plans to deploy the Gen2 System and asks the FCC to approve one of the proposals. Amazon told the FCC that it is ‘against the rules’ to submit two proposals in a single filing and said SpaceX must select only one configuration and resubmit the proposal. You can read about the two Gen2 System configurations in a previous TESMANIAN article: SpaceX ‘Gen2’ Starlink Satellites Will Feature New Capabilities & Be Launched By Starship
Featured Image Source: SpaceX Starlink.com