SpaceX Engineers Are Reportedly Setting Up A Starlink Gateway In Fiji To Provide Internet For Tonga Region Struck By Volcano-Tsunami

von Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo Februar 04, 2022

SpaceX Engineers Are Reportedly Setting Up A Starlink Gateway In Fiji To Provide Internet For Tonga Region Struck By Volcano-Tsunami

Featured Image: NOAA GOES-West Earth-imaging satellite captures Tonga volcanic eruption. / Source: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

A team of SpaceX engineers are reportedly setting up a Starlink Gateway station in Fiji to provide internet for the Kingdom of Tonga islands that were recently struck by an undersea volcanic eruption that caused a tsunami. The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano located in the South Pacific Ocean erupted on January 15, 2022. The eruption force produced destructive shockwaves throughout Tonga and neighboring Fiji and Samoa Islands. It also destroyed an important underwater fiber-optic internet cable that connects the Islands to the world wide web. Tonga relies a single undersea fiber-optic cable that is 827 kilometers long and is as thick as a garden hose. Fixing the cable is expensive and could take a long time to complete.

When SpaceX founder Elon Musk read news reports stating that the people living in Tonga would not have internet access for over a month, he offered to bring Starlink broadband service to the region to help first responders and communities communicate for disaster relief operations. The Starlink satellite network consists of around 1,400 active satellites that beam internet data directly to user antennas of over 145,000 customers across 25 countries. –“Could people from Tonga let us know if it is important for SpaceX to send over Starlink terminals?” Musk wrote via Twitter on January 21, in response to a news report. People with relatives living in Tonga replied to Musk, asking him to help provide internet to contact family members and assist in emergency response efforts.

Now, SpaceX teams are setting up a Starlink Gateway in the neighboring Island of Fiji. The gateway is a ground station antenna connected to a local data center that transmits data to the Starlink satellites in orbit then links nearby users to the internet. According to a Fiji FBC news report, Fiji's Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said that SpaceX plans to operate the ground station temporarily for 6-months as part of a “temporary emergency telecommunications license” to provide an internet gateway to help the disaster-struck Tonga Islands. 

In the future, SpaceX will not require to set up many ground stations to enable broadband coverage because it plans to deploy thousands of satellites equipped with communication laser links that will enable each satellite to transmit data to one another without the need to directly receive internet data from a specific ground station. "[…] Data packets do not need to touch regular Internet –data can flow from user terminal to satellite/s to user terminal [customer dish antenna],” Musk previously explained. SpaceX has launched a bit over 300 satellites with inter-satellite laser links but the satellites are currently moving into operational orbits and will not be activated until each reach their designated orbit later this year. 

Featured Image: NOAA GOES-West Earth-imaging satellite captures Tonga volcanic eruption. / Source: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).








← Vorheriger  / Nächster →