Featured Image Source: SpaceX
SpaceX aims to join the broadband internet provider business to fund its space program. The rocket company calls the service Starlink – it will be a constellation of over 12,000 internet-beaming satellites orbiting Earth. Starlink’s revenue will go towards making life multiplanetary. SpaceX’s ultimate mission is to send a fleet of 1,000 Starships to Mars before the year 2050. Customers will be supporting that ambitious dream that will change the course of humanity’s future. The company states Starlink will be offered on a global scale and benefit rural areas where connection is too expensive, unreliable or non-existent. The latest fleet of 60 satellites was deployed on Wednesday, April 22, bringing the overall total to 420 satellites in low Earth orbit. The total excludes 2 experimental satellites known as Tintin A and Tintin B, which served as testing units and will be deorbited soon.
Starlink will deliver high speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 22, 2020
The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk shared customers will receive Starlink’s signal from user terminals that look like a “Looks like a thin, flat, round UFO on a stick.” The user terminal is about 19 inches in diameter, "Starlink Terminal has motors to self-adjust optimal angle to view sky. Instructions are simply: plug-in socket, point at sky. These instructions work in either order. No training required," he said. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently approved the operation of 1 million user terminals in the United States. The company recently filed another request to the FCC, seeking approval to modify satellites altitude, SpaceX wrote in the document:
“Specifically, SpaceX seeks to relocate 2,824 satellites that were previously authorized for operation at altitudes ranging from 1,100km to 1,330km to new altitudes ranging from 540km to 570km. Because of the increased atmospheric drag at this lower altitude, this relocation will significantly enhance space safety by ensuring that any orbital debris will quickly re-enter and demise in the atmosphere. And because of its closer proximity to consumers on Earth, this modification will allow SpaceX's system to provide low-latency broadband to unserved and underserved Americans that is on par with service previously only available in urban areas. Finally, this modification will improve service to customers—including Federal users—in otherwise impossible to reach polar areas.”
SpaceX aims to roll-out service in portions of the Northern United States and Canada before year-end. During the Satellite 2020 conference last month, Musk said:
“It will be a pretty good experience because it'll be very low latency. We're targeting latency below 20 milliseconds, so somebody could play a fast-response video game at a competitive level, like that's the threshold for the latency.”
Private beta begins in ~3 months, public beta in ~6 months, starting with high latitudes— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 23, 2020
This week, he shared the first Starlink beta tests will initiate soon. “Private beta begins in ~3 months, public beta in ~6 months, starting with high latitudes,” Musk wrote via Twitter. It is likely that the private beta service tests will be conducted by his companies and offered to his employees. The public beta will initially be offered to those who live in northern parts of the country in “high latitudes.” Starlink will operate globally until 2021.
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.