Featured Image Source: SpaceX Starlink
SpaceX aims to fund its Mars colonization ambitions by offering Starlink internet services. The rocket company is dedicated to building a satellite constellation that will beam low latency, high-speed broadband internet across the globe. The Vice President of Starlink commercial sales, Jonathan Hofeller, stated that SpaceX is rapidly manufacturing 6 Starlink satellites every day. The company's Falcon 9 rocket is capable of carrying a batch of 60 Starlink satellites per mission. So far, they have successfully deployed a total of 300 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit, out of the 12,000 that will make up the Starlink constellation. Out of the 300 satellites deployed, 290 are in good condition to become operational. According to SpaceX officials, it will take about 400 satellites to establish minor internet coverage and 800 satellites for moderate coverage.
The next deployment of Starlink is scheduled for Saturday. A Falcon 9 rocket will carry 60 satellites from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Lift-off is slated for March 14 at approximately 9:35 a.m. EST.
During an interview at the Satellite 2020 conference in Washington D.C, the founder of SpaceX Elon Musk, said that Starlink will offer "a pretty good experience" to areas with dense populations. He explained:
"It will be a pretty good experience because it'll be very low latency. We're targeting latency below 20 milliseconds, so somebody could play a fast-response video game at a competitive level, like that's the threshold for the latency."
Latency of less than 20 milliseconds would make Starlink ideal for gamers, also to stream high definition videos. 60 satellites could deliver 1 terabit of bandwidth that could potentially support 40,000 users streaming ultra-high-definition content at the same time. Though, Musk said that Starlink's bandwidth will initially benefit individuals living in rural areas, "The bandwidth is a very complex question. But let's just say somebody will be able to watch high-def movies, play video games, and do all the things they want to do without noticing speed." He explained that they will target low population densities and that not everyone in a big city would be able to use Starlink, therefore SpaceX's broadband network will not compete with other telecommunications (telecos) business. Musk stated:
"I want to be clear, it's not like Starlink is some huge threat to telcos. I want to be super clear it is not. In fact, it will be helpful to telcos because Starlink will serve the hardest to serve customers that telcos otherwise have trouble doing with landlines or even with.. cell towers."
Musk also noted how major broadband companies often don't serve rural areas that have less population and are more focused on serving the larger cities. So, space-based internet is ideal for hard to reach areas. Starlink will benefit areas on Earth where internet is non-existent or unreliable. Starlink customers will receive internet connection via a small terminal that "looks like a thin, flat, round UFO on a stick" and it will feature the capability to self-adjust, "Starlink terminal has motors to self-adjust optimal angle to view sky."
“It's very important that you don't need a specialist to install it,” he said at the Satellite 2020 conference. "The goal is that...there's just two instructions and they can be done in either order: point at sky, plug in."
Starlink will likely serve the "3 or 4 percent hardest to reach customers for telcos" and "people who simply have no connectivity right now, or the connectivity is really bad. So, I think it will be actually helpful and take a significant load off the traditional telcos." He explained that 5G is better suited for big cities than rural areas because "you need range" for rural areas. SpaceX aims to roll out Starlink service before the year ends in parts of Northern United States and Canada, then expand into a global network by 2021.