SpaceX is already providing Starlink satellite broadband internet in the United States and abroad. With approximately 1,205 satellites in orbit the company is accepting service pre-orders via Starlink.com. Starlink customers use a phased-array dish antenna and Wi-Fi router to receive high-speed internet service from the satellites. The service is currently limited to a specific region and address, the dish antenna cannot be moved far from the specific user location to receive connection. “Your Starlink is assigned to a single cell,” the company says, “If you move your Starlink outside of its assigned cell, a satellite will not be scheduled to serve your Starlink and you will not receive internet.”
SpaceX has plans to make Starlink service available on the move, according to a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing that was published on March 5. SpaceX’s FCC filing requests to operate Starlink terminals ‘in moving vehicles, vessels, and aircraft.’ “The Commission has granted a blanket license for operation of up to one million end-user customer Earth stations [dish antennas]. SpaceX Services seeks a blanket license authorizing operation of such end-user earth stations for deployment as Vehicle-Mounted Earth Stations (“VMESs”), Earth Stations on Vessels (“ESVs”), and Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft (“ESAAs”) (collectively, Earth Stations in Motion (“ESIMs”)),” SpaceX wrote in the FCC filing. “SpaceX Services seeks authority to deploy and operate these earth stations (1) as VMES throughout the United States and its territories, (2) as ESVs in the territorial waters of the United States and throughout international waters worldwide, and (3) as ESAAs on U.S.-registered aircraft operating worldwide and non-U.S.-registered aircraft operating in U.S. airspace,” the company told the FCC.
SpaceX also said it “will ensure installation of ESIM terminals on vehicles and vessels by qualified installers who have an understanding of the antenna's radiation environment and the measures best suited to maximize protection of the general public and persons operating the vehicle and equipment.”
If SpaceX receives FCC approval, Starlink will be capable of operating aboard moving vehicles including airplanes and ships out in the ocean where internet communications are not usually available. “Granting this application would serve the public interest by authorizing a new class of ground-based components for SpaceX's satellite system that will expand the range of broadband capabilities available to moving vehicles throughout the United States and to moving vessels and aircraft worldwide,” SpaceX told the Commission, “The urgency to provide broadband service to unserved and underserved areas has never been clearer. U.S. and worldwide demand for broadband services and Internet connectivity continues to increase with escalating requirements for speed, capacity, and reliability and ongoing adaptations for usage."
All Images Source: SpaceX
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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.