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SpaceX is deploying a megaconstellation of internet-beaming Starlink satellites to provide internet service to rural areas around Earth where service is unreliable and not available. The Starlink network could provide SpaceX with additional funding to develop a fleet of Starships to colonize Mars.
The company already launched approximately 888 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit out of over 4,000 that will be part of the broadband network. Starlink customers will receive low-latency, high-speed broadband service from the satellites via a dish user terminal and Wi-Fi router device.
SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell revealed this week that the company also plans to provide high-speed internet on the Red Planet one day. In an interview with Time Magazine, she shared the reasons why SpaceX is creating the Starlink network. One of the reasons is to maintain communication with a future Mars colony. --"Once we take people to Mars, they are going to need a capability to communicate," she said, "In fact, I think it will be even more critical to have a constellation like Starlink around Mars. And then, of course, you need to connect the two planets as well," Shotwell told reporters.
The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk hopes to see a self-sustaining Mars settlement before the year 2050. His company runs around-the-clock operations to develop the spacecraft and technology that will enable humans to become a multiplanet species. During a recent Mars Society Convention teleconference, Musk said it is possible to set-up a variant of the Starlink network on Mars. --"... You just need a big laser coming from Earth," he said, "Probably want it to be in orbit so it doesn't get atmospheric diffraction or attenuation. You want to go from a big laser from Earth orbit to Mars orbit and then you're going to need some relay stations for when Mars is on the other side of the Sun. So, you can't just shoot a laser through the sun," Musk explained. "[...] We want to be on track to become a multiplanet species and a spacefaring civilization in order to find out what the Universe is all about... And ensure the continuance of consciousness as we know it," he said. "As far as we know, we are the only life."
Shotwell shares a similar sentiment. "...Candidly, transporting people to other planets, I cannot imagine a goal more worthy or more important," she told reporters. "... I also want to make sure you understand, we are not giving up on Earth, when we talk about building capability to move humanity to other planets... Its not giving up on Earth, it's actually just giving humanity another shot in case there would be some horrible event on Earth [...] a second planet to live," she added.