SpaceX receives FCC authorization to operate one million Starlink user terminals

SpaceX receives FCC authorization to operate one million Starlink user terminals

Featured Image Source: SpaceX

SpaceX has been developing and launching rockets for the past decade, all in an effort to eventually take humans back to the moon and build the first colony on Mars. SpaceX aims to offer Starlink internet services world-wide in order to fund its ambitious missions. The company has been deploying small desk-sized satellites into low Earth orbit, that will beam high-speed broadband internet across the globe. Starlink will be a constellation consisting of 12,000 satellites. The initial plan, consists of deploying 1,584 satellites into 72 orbits with 22 satellites per orbital ring, into an altitude of 550 kilometers above Earth. SpaceX launched its latest batch of 60 Starlink satellites on Wednesday (March 18), bringing the total number of satellites in orbit to 360. Future deployments are scheduled approximately twice a month. Each mission deploys a batch of 60 satellites atop a Falcon 9 rocket. Every deployment of 60 satellites could deliver 1 terabit of bandwidth, that could potentially support 40,000 users. The network will serve the "3 or 4 percent hardest to reach customers" for telecommunication companies, which are likely rural areas where internet connectivity is unreliable or non-existent. Starlink customers will receive Starlink internet from space via a terminal unit. 

SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, revealed some details of how customers will receive Starlink internet connection. He shared the user terminal- "looks like a thin, flat, round UFO on a stick." Setting up the Starlink network will be relatively easy, the user would just plug it into electricity and point it at the sky or vice-versa, with "No training required." Musk explained via Twitter:

"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."

The device's technology is advanced enough to find the signal on its own; Users will not have to figure out where the Starlink constellation might be nor adjust the terminal as it moves through the sky, it would automatically move itself.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has authorized SpaceX to operate as many as 1 million Starlink terminal units to receive internet connectivity. According to the FCC authorization, the terminal will be 0.48 meters in diameter, that is equivalent to about 19 inches. The document also details that the required date of 'completion, construction, and commencement of operation is Saturday, March 13, 2021.' SpaceX aims to begin offering internet services in parts of Northern United States and Canada this year and global coverage until 2021. The company has not made public what the pricing for the service would be, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, previously told reporters: "All I know is you will be far happier with the value of the Starlink service than you are with your current service. You will, for sure, get way more bandwidth for the same price, or way more bandwidth for less…You’ll be far happier with this. The value will be far greater."

About the Author

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn 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.

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