SpaceX is revolutionizing the Internet industry with its Starlink broadband satellite network. As of today, the company operates a constellation of around 4,265 Starlink satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) that provide high-speed internet to over 1.5 million subscribers globally. SpaceX is launching Starlink satellites every month to continue expanding service coverage, with plans to launch a total of 12,000 satellites. Besides providing internet to homes and businesses, Starlink beams service directly to user antennas installed on vehicles in motion, like RVs, cruise ships, and aircraft.
In the early days of satellite internet, Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites were the norm for aviation. These GEO satellites, positioned at an altitude of approximately 36,000 kilometers above the Earth's surface, provided coverage to large regions but have limitations in terms of speed and latency – making it hard to livestream or have video calls in-flight. However, everything changed when SpaceX set its sights on LEO and launched thousands of satellites. One of the key advantages of Starlink's satellites is the ability to provide faster internet speeds because they operate at much lower altitudes of around 550 kilometers. With traditional GEO satellites, the signal had to travel a considerable distance to reach the satellite and then make the round trip back to Earth, resulting in noticeable lag and latency average of around 600ms (milliseconds). In contrast, Starlink's LEO satellites are positioned much closer to the planet, reducing the distance the signal travels. This proximity allows for faster data transmission and significantly lower latency, resulting in a smoother and more responsive internet experience.
Multiple passengers have shared that SpaceX Starlink is showing impressive internet speeds in-flight. In March, aviation reporter Zach Griff shared via Twitter that they had the opportunity to test Starlink aboard a JSX airplane and were able to make a video call. JSX is a charter airline that offers private point-to-point flights; It became an early adopter of SpaceX Starlink last year. “HOLY COW. Just flew on JSX with the new SpaceX Starlink internet... and these are the fastest Wi-Fi speeds I've ever seen in the air. The low latency even meant that I could make FaceTime calls and join Zoom meetings with no lag. Welcome to the future,” said Griff about testing Starlink in-flight. He shared photos of the internet speeds, Starlink Wi-Fi provided download internet speed of 102Mbps (megabits per second), upload speed of 5.31Mbps, with low-latency of 42ms on a cell phone. And another internet speed test on his laptop showed download speed of 153.65Mbps,19.40Mbps upload, with latency of 33ms.
HOLY COW 🤯— Zach Griff (@_ZachGriff) March 7, 2023
Just flew on @flyjsx with the new @SpaceX Starlink internet... and these are the fastest Wi-Fi speeds I've ever seen in the air.
The low latency even meant that I could make FaceTime calls and join Zoom meetings with no lag.
Welcome to the future. pic.twitter.com/651B2Pl0fW
Most recently, on June 9, the CEO of KittyCad, Inc. Jessie Frazelle shared via Twitter that they used Starlink on their flight and shared a screenshot of the internet speed. They did not publicly share what airline they traveled with, they just tweeted a screenshot that states that the Starlink network provided download speed of 76.1Mbps and low-latency of 54ms. “It got faster as we left civilization 135Mbps now,” they wrote in a follow-up tweet.
Starlink is on my flight, the future is here and it’s fast as f*ck boi. pic.twitter.com/viZ7dCa3Zl— Jessie Frazelle (@jessfraz) June 9, 2023
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX Starlink.com
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.