SpaceX Provides Starlink Internet To Kentucky Region Destroyed By Cluster Of Tornadoes

SpaceX Provides Starlink Internet To Kentucky Region Destroyed By Cluster Of Tornadoes

A deadly cluster of tornadoes ripped across the U.S. State of Kentucky the weekend of December 11, destroying entire small towns and thousands of homes across multiple Western Kentucky counties. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said on Friday that the death toll was up to 77 people, making the tornado outbreak the deadliest in the state’s history.

SpaceX delivered Starlink Kits to the region affected by the tornadoes, according to a report by a local newspaper The Paducah Sun. SpaceX materials flow Engineer Austin Marshall, who is a native of Possum Trot, Kentucky, delivered the first Starlink Kits that include all necessary equipment to connect affected communities to the satellite internet service. “I like coming back home, but I wish the circumstances were better,” he told The Paducah Sun, “I’m the one who put it all together. I saw there was a need. […] This is what we’re doing, is building a satellite internet constellation. It’s in Beta right now; we’re testing it out in the northern latitudes of North America and other countries. This is the first time it’s been in Kentucky, and they just turned on this area because of the disaster,” he shared. According to the report, 20 Starlink kits were delivered and 40 more kits have been requested by the local government authorities to enable first-responders and communities to communicate. The kits were delivered to the University of Kentucky and the Federal Emergency Management Agency that coordinated deliveries to Graves County, Marshall County, Caldwell County and Bowling Green County – the zones that faced the destructive force of the tornadoes. Read more in The Paducah Sun article linked below. 

SpaceX Starlink broadband network is mostly unaffected by terrestrial weather because it is a space-based internet system. The company operates approximately 1,944 satellites in Low Earth Orbit that receive data from ground stations dispersed all over the world and the satellites in orbit directly beam the internet data to user terminals. Next year, the Starlink network will not depend much on ground stations because all the newest (and future) Starlink satellites deployed feature inter-satellite communications laser links that enable the satellites to beam the internet at high-speed to one another without the need to receive data directly from ground stations. SpaceX already operates at least 100 Starlink satellites with communication laser-links that enable direct data transmission. Starlink is unlike other internet infrastructures that can be shutdown by extreme weather because they solely depend on terrestrial infrastructures, like fiber-optic cables and tall antenna towers that can be destroyed by tornadoes. For the past two years, SpaceX has been working to connect rural and remote regions globally to the space-based internet network. The company also provided free internet access to multiple regions globally affected by destructive weather, including during wildfires that destroyed the small town of Malden in eastern Washington state, as well as during the massive flooding that took place in Germany this year. 



 Featured Image Source: SpaceX 

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

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.

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