SpaceX aspires to connect rural and remote areas on Earth to the internet. The aerospace company is building its Starlink broadband network in Low Earth Orbit where thousands of satellites will beam low-latency, high-speed internet globally. SpaceX already started to offer Starlink satellite internet in the northern United States and southern Canada for $99 USD per month. Customers receive broadband internet from the constellation of satellites in orbit via a dish terminal. SpaceX plans to provide service to 'the populated world' by 2021, primarily focused in areas where internet connection is unreliable and unavailable. To receive updates about when the service will be available in your area submit your e-mail via Starlink.com
Once there are thousands of Starlink satellites in orbit, the constellation will be capable of beaming internet worldwide. Elon Musk, the founder and Chief Executive Officer at SpaceX, said Starlink service will even be capable of connecting passengers on ships to the internet. When asked if the Starlink service will be capable of working aboard a sailboat navigating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Musk said --"Yeah, that will be relatively easy, as so few users out in the ocean," he wrote via Twitter early November.
Yeah, that will be relatively easy, as so few users out in the ocean— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 3, 2020
Starlink will be useful in the ocean because most terrestrial communication services lose signal at sea. Satellites orbiting Earth constantly beam signal down to every place where a Starlink dish terminal is searching for its signal. In fact, SpaceX plans to test Starlink on ten ships that are used during rocket launches. According to a letter SpaceX submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on September 15, SpaceX is seeking to operate the Starlink user terminals on Falcon 9 landing droneships that operate autonomously in the ocean, including 'rocket fairing catcher' ships, as pictured above.
Image Source: SpaceX
The two autonomous droneships are called Just Read the Instructions (JRTI) and Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY). These vessels are equipped with cameras that livestream video footage to SpaceX as Falcon 9's first-stage booster returns from space to perform a landing. Starlink could be useful to have stable video connection at sea during missions. SpaceX has a fleet of supporting sea vessels that aid in astronaut and rocket recovery efforts. – “In order to expand its assessment of the end-to-end capabilities of its satellite system, SpaceX seeks authority to test these user terminals on seagoing platforms for a period of up to two years,” the aerospace company wrote in the filing to the Commission, “Specifically, SpaceX proposes to deploy a total of ten earth stations across up to ten vessels, including two autonomous spaceport droneships used to land rocket boosters at sea on high-velocity missions that cannot carry enough fuel to allow for a return-to-launch-site landing, and support ships that accompany the droneships to the landing zone at sea.”
The company told the FCC that obtaining approval to operate Starlink aboard its vessels “would enable SpaceX to obtain critical data regarding the operational performance of these user terminals,” SpaceX wrote to the FCC. If FCC approves, these user terminals would operate aboard the vessels while they are “anchored in port, in transit to predetermined landing zones in the Atlantic Ocean, and on station at those landing zone sites,” the filing states.
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.