Featured Image Source: SpaceX Starlink
SpaceX’s main goal is to transform humans into a multi-planet species. Building a fleet of Starships to colonize Mars comes with an expensive price tag. The aerospace company plans to roll out a broadband internet network called Starlink, that will provide revenue to fund missions to the moon and the Red Planet. SpaceX is actively launching internet-beaming Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit atop previously-flown Falcon 9 rockets. As of today, it has deployed around 540 satellites out of 12,000 that will make up the Starlink constellation to provide internet connection worldwide. SpaceX is primarily focused on rural areas where internet connection is inaccessible, non-existent, or too expensive to acquire.
Customers will receive Starlink’s internet signal from space via a 19-inch-diameter user terminal dish, pictured above. SpaceX already initiated a private Beta testing phase of the network among employees, family, and friends. Jonathan Hofeller SpaceX Vice-President of Starlink and Commercial Sales, revealed last week he already installed a Starlink Terminal in his home. “I have deployed one on my house, it’s very exciting to get one. The instructions are super-easy. You plug it in, and you point it at the sky, and a few seconds later you have internet. It’s truly remarkable,” he shared. “The beauty of being vertically integrated both on the user terminal, the gateways, and the satellite piece of it is that we are constantly updating and improving the connection between those pieces of infrastructure.” The terminal works alongside a router device that connects wirelessly to electronic devices.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the operation of 1 million Starlink user terminals in the United States. Yesterday, July 31, SpaceX filed a new request, seeking to increase the number of Starlink terminals from 1 million to 5 million. – “SpaceX Services requests this increase in authorized units due to the extraordinary demand for access to the Starlink non-geostationary orbit satellite system,” the company wrote in the FCC filing.
“SpaceX Services requests this increase in authorized units due to the extraordinary demand for access to the Starlink non-geostationary orbit satellite system.”
Early last month, SpaceX asked potential customers to submit their e-mail to receive updates of when the service will be available in their area. “Despite the fact that SpaceX has yet to formally advertise this system’s services, nearly 700,000 individuals represented in all 50 states signed up over a matter of just days to register their interest,” SpaceX told the FCC, “To ensure that SpaceX is able to accommodate the apparent demand for its broadband Internet access service, SpaceX Services requests a substantial increase in the number of authorized units.”
SpaceX officials said Starlink service will be offered to customers after there are at least 800 satellites in orbit to offer 'moderate' internet coverage. Starlink will initially be offered in high latitudes, starting with northern portions of the United States and Canada. The company plans to offer a Starlink Beta testing program to the public soon. You can sign up for updates via SpaceX’s website: Starlink.com.