SpaceX Starship was equipped with a Starlink antenna during the first fully-integrated flight. “Starlink set an altitude and speed record for use in-flight during Starship’s first flight test, providing connectivity at 123,600+ feet and while traveling at Mach 1.7!” shared SpaceX via Twitter today. The company used the Starlink network to communicate with the uncrewed vehicle’s systems and receive data during the 4-minute test flight. Although the Starship did not reach orbit on the first try, the flight provided engineers with useful data that engineers are using to improve the spacecraft ahead of the next attempt to reach orbit from Starbase, Texas.
Starlink's integration with Starship aligns with SpaceX founder Elon Musk's long-term vision of establishing a Moon base and a sustainable human settlement on Mars. As space travelers venture further into the cosmos, the need for reliable and high-speed internet communication becomes increasingly vital. Starlink's presence aboard a Starship would not only ensure connectivity during the transit phase but also opens doors to establish a robust communication infrastructure on the Lunar and Martian surface. This would enable future colonists to stay connected with Earth, collaborate with other settlements, and access a wealth of knowledge and resources via the internet.
With SpaceX’s constellation of thousands of satellites encircling the Earth, Starlink has already revolutionized terrestrial internet connectivity, delivering high-speed, low-latency internet access to even the most remote corners of planet Earth with 1.5 Million subscribers and counting. The company will soon perform a crewed mission that will officially test Starlink service in outer space. The Polaris Program crew, led by Shift4 founder Inspiration4 Astronaut Jared Isaacman, will be the first to test Starlink inter-satellite laser-based communication during an upcoming mission on the Crew Dragon spacecraft later this year. Isaacman also plans to fly aboard Starship once its space-ready.
During the 2020 Mars Society Convention, Elon Musk suggested that SpaceX could design a variation of the Starlink network to provide internet services on the Martian surface, which would require “a big laser coming from Earth,” he said. "Probably want it to be in orbit so it doesn't get atmospheric diffraction or attenuation. You want to go from a big laser from Earth orbit to Mars orbit and then you're going to need some relay stations for when Mars is on the other side of the Sun. So, you can't just shoot a laser through the sun,” Musk explained.
Traditional communication systems often face limitations in maintaining constant connection as spacecraft venture further into space. However, the day that SpaceX deploys Starlink satellites across the Solar System, possibly some in Mars orbit, the astronauts aboard Starship would enjoy reliable and seamless internet access ensuring continuous communication with mission control and facilitating real-time data transmission. While significant technical challenges and engineering adaptations to fully integrate Starlink into the Starship architecture remain under development, SpaceX's relentless pursuit of innovation and its successful track record in advancing space technologies offer a promising outlook. The potential for Starlink satellite internet aboard Starship represents a giant leap forward in bridging the digital divide between Earth and our future interplanetary destinations, revolutionizing space exploration and redefining the possibilities of human civilization beyond our home planet.
Starlink set an altitude and speed record for use in-flight during Starship’s first flight test, providing connectivity at 123,600+ feet and while traveling at Mach 1.7! 🛰️🚀 pic.twitter.com/A51d7RJLCR— Starlink (@Starlink) June 2, 2023
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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.