On October 18, SpaceX released 'Starlink Aviation' service for "high-speed, low-latency, in-flight internet with connectivity across the globe." The hardware needed to access the Starlink satellite constellation is a new phased array antenna designed specifically for aircraft called 'Aero Terminal.' It looks like a flat square panel that is installed on the airplanes' exterior, as pictured below. "Starlink's low-profile Aero Terminal features an electronically steered phased array antenna, which enables new levels of reliability, redundancy and performance," says the company.
The Starlink Aviation hardware kit costs $150,000 USD and is capable of beaming wireless internet access to all passengers on an airplane. The kit includes an Aero Terminal, power supply, 2 wireless access points, and harnesses. The internet subscription ranges from $12,500 to $25,000 per month, depending on the aviation company's needs. Customers can already reserve the internet service and pre-order the hardware at SpaceX’s Starlink.com website with an initial payment of $5,000 USD. SpaceX plans to begin delivering the service in mid-2023.
Source: SpaceX Starlink.com
SpaceX says the Starlink Aviation service is capable of delivering internet at "any altitude" across the globe. –"As the world's largest satellite constellation with coverage over land, the oceans and polar regions, Starlink is positioned to connect passengers wherever your flight routes evolve," the company's website states. According to satellite data by astronomer Jonathan McDowell, SpaceX has approximately 3,176 operational Starlink satellites in Low Earth Orbit that actively provide internet coverage to over half-a-million customers on land, at sea, and in the air.
"Starlink can deliver up to 350 Mbps [Megabits per second] to each plane, enabling all passengers to access streaming-capable internet at the same time," said the company, "With latency as low as 20 ms [milliseconds], passengers can engage in activities previously not functional in flight, including video calls, online gaming, virtual private networks and other high data rate activities."
A few months ago, Hawaiian Airlines became the first Starlink Aviation customer. The airline is working to equip its Airbus A330 and A321neo aircraft, as well as an incoming fleet of Boeing 787-9s, with Starlink terminals to access the satellite constellation during transpacific flights next year. Since its founding, Hawaiian Airlines did not provide any Wi-Fi service during flights because they had not found a reliable network that serves flights over the Pacific Ocean. “When we launch with Starlink we will have the best connectivity experience available in the air,” said Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram in April. “We waited until technology caught up with our high standards for guest experience, but it will be worth the wait. Our guests can look forward to fast, seamless and free Wi-Fi to complement our award-winning onboard Hawaiian hospitality.”
JSX, a charter airline that offers private point-to-point flights, also became an early adopter of SpaceX Starlink Internet in-flight. “The best Wi-Fi in the galaxy is coming to the world’s most joyful air carrier, announcing Starlink Wi-Fi on JSX complimentary for every customer. Launching this year," announced JSX in April. The private airline operates Embraer ERJ-135 and ERJ-145 aircraft, capable of transporting 30 to 50 passengers.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
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.