SpaceX's Starlink 'UFO on a stick' User Terminal Prototypes Revealed In Photos

SpaceX's Starlink 'UFO on a stick' User Terminal Prototypes Revealed In Photos

All Images Credit: r/darkpenguin22 via Reddit

SpaceX aims to offer Starlink internet services worldwide to fund its space program. The company has been deploying small satellites that will beam low latency, high-speed broadband internet across the globe. Starlink will be a constellation consisting of 12,000 satellites. As of today, the company has deployed 540 satellites into low Earth orbit. Every deployment of 60 satellites can deliver 1 terabit of bandwidth, which could potentially support 40,000 users streaming high-definition content simultaneously. The network will serve the "3 or 4 percent hardest to reach customers" for telecommunication companies. Rural areas where internet connectivity is unreliable or non-existent will benefit from the Starlink network. 

Early January, the founder and Chief Engineer at SpaceX Elon Musk, shared some details of how customers will receive Starlink’s internet connection. He shared that the terminal "looks like a thin, flat, round UFO on a stick." The "Starlink terminal has motors to self-adjust optimal angle to view sky," Musk explained. 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.  He also said that setting up the Starlink network would be relatively easy. The user would just plug it into electricity and point it at the sky or vice-versa, with "No training required."


Today (June 19), a Reddit user shared a collection of photographs that reveal how SpaceX’s Starlink user terminal looks like. The photos are from a location at Merrillan, WI, that appears to be a SpaceX ground base station to receive Starlink’s signal. The ‘UFO’ terminals have a label that reads “Property of SpaceX – Prototype.”

Credit: r/darkpenguin22 via Reddit

"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." -Elon Musk

All Images Credit: r/darkpenguin22 via Reddit

In March, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized SpaceX to operate as many as 1 million Starlink terminal units to receive internet connectivity. According to the FCC authorization, the terminal is 0.48 meters in diameter, which is equivalent to about 19 inches. The document also details that the date of “completion, construction, and commencement of operation is Saturday, March 13, 2021.” SpaceX aims to begin offering internet services in parts of the Northern United States and Canada this year and global coverage until 2021. SpaceX recently submitted an application to offer Starlink broadband internet in Canada.



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.”

* Edit: The company has deployed 540 satellites.

H/T @alexcatrey

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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