On Saturday, November 13, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said that the Starlink broadband satellite constellation will have global maritime coverage by mid-2022. This feat will be possible once SpaceX launches more satellites equipped with Inter-satellite communication laser links. The company launched a fleet of satellites with lasers this morning. Read more: SpaceX Falcon 9 Deploys 53 Next-Generation Starlink Satellites Into A New Orbital Shell. “Inter-satellite laser communications means Starlink can carry data at speed of light in vacuum all around Earth before touching ground,” Musk explained, “Over time, some amount of communication can simply be from one user terminal to another without touching the Internet,” he said. Unlike terrestrial internet where data travels through fiber-optic cables, Starlink satellites beam data directly to the customer’s dish antenna which enables a faster internet connection.
Inter-satellite laser communications means Starlink can carry data at speed of light in vacuum all around Earth before touching ground.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 13, 2021
Over time, some amount of communication can simply be from one user terminal to another without touching the Internet.
In a social media conversation, a Twitter user told Musk – “My parents are about to travel the earth by boat and it would be great if they could use Starlink for their voyage!” To which Musk responded –“Should work everywhere for global maritime by roughly middle of next year (enough sats [satellites] with laser links launched). Until then, it will be patchy when far from land,” he wrote.
Should work everywhere for global maritime by roughly middle of next year (enough sats with laser links launched). Until then, it will be patchy when far from land.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 13, 2021
Long-term, SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation will not need many ground stations that directly connect to data centers because the satellites with laser links will transfer data with each other without the need to directly receive information from the ground stations. All future Starlink satellites will be equipped with communication lasers that will enable high-speed internet with low-latency. Currently, the constellation generates internet download speeds ranging between 100Mbps to 200Mbps (megabits per second), some users around the world report experiencing download speeds over 250Mbps, even over 350Mbps, which is impressive. With the laser links, latency will decrease to 20ms (milliseconds) and the coverage will expand across the globe, enabling mobile service for users who would like to connect to the Starlink network while camping aboard an RV or while cruising aboard sea-going vessels. Right now, the service is only limited to a single service address but the company does have plans to enable mobility when they launch more satellites to low Earth orbit. SpaceX is also in discussions with commercial airlines to provide internet aboard flights. Visit Starlink.com to find out if service is already available in your region.
Featured Image Source: George Desipris via Pexels.com
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
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.