SpaceX Starlink is the new game-changer in the internet market.

SpaceX has been launching batches of about 60 Starlink satellites to provide high-quality broadband internet to the most remote parts of the planet. While also providing low latency connectivity to already well-connected cities. SpaceX company intends to make their broadband as convenient as possible, claiming that anyone will be able to connect to their network Imagine yourself in the middle of nowhere? Where there’s no Wi-Fi, cell phone service, or any way to communicate with the outside world. Or taking a long-distance train journey where there is a high chance of network drop or intermittent connectivity. Wouldn’t that be frustrating? You probably would think of pre-downloading your favourite web series, movies to watch later offline.

starlink box techlizzard

Back in 2015, Elon Musk announced that SpaceX had begun working on a communication satellite network, stating that there is a significant unmet demand for low-cost global broadband capabilities. Around that time, SpaceX opened a new facility in Redmond, Washington to develop and manufacture these new communication satellites. The initial plan was to launch two prototype satellites into orbit by 2016 and have the initial satellite constellation up and running by 2020.

After a successful launch of the two prototypes, Tintin-A and B, which allowed SpaceX to test and refine their satellite design, SpaceX kept pretty quiet about what was next for the Starlink project, until November 2018 when SpaceX received the approval from the FCC to deploy 7,500 satellites into orbit, on top of the 4,400 that were already approved, On May 24th, the first batch of production satellites was launched into orbit and people around the world quickly started to spot the train of satellites moving across the night sky.

Who was the first to use Starlink

A Native American tribe that lives in a remote part of Washington State is one of the first to try out the new internet. Before the Hoh Tribe got Starlink as part of a private beta test their internet wasn’t great and that’s putting it lightly. They’ve had to deal with astonishing rates of 0.3 to 0.7 megabits per second. They can’t even stream a YouTube video in standard 480p  which requires at least a megabit a second.  The global average for broadband connection is 84 megabits per second. SpaceX just came up and just catapulted us into the 21st century. Initial tests of Starlink show it can download greater than 100 megabits a second according to SpaceX.

Another benefit is supposed to be low latency which measures delay. For example, the time it takes between clicking on a web page and when the page is displayed. SpaceX says the lag is around 20 milliseconds – good enough to play the fastest games online and on par with ground-based services like fiber-optic broadband.  Low latency is achieved because the satellites are much closer to Earth, with most sitting  550 km or 340 miles above the planet’s surface whereas many others are at least 1,000 km out. Starlink satellites are over 60 times closer to Earth than traditional satellites, resulting in lower latency and the ability to support services typically not possible with traditional satellite internet.

SpaceX plans to put 12,000 into orbit and possibly as many as 42,000 in one day. Considering only 9,000 satellites have ever been launched in all of history, this is astounding and not going unnoticed when you look up at the sky.  The latest ones have a visor to make them less shiny than these but astronomers doubt this will make them completely invisible to the eye.

What about the debris/junk of a dead satellite?

Questions have been raised about how this will add to debris in space commonly called space junk, defined as any object that no longer has a purpose. SpaceX had to show the FCC it has a plan to address the debris issue before getting approval to launch in the US, The company says satellites that fail or are old will intentionally deorbit with their thrusters and burn up in the atmosphere so they won’t become debris. A benefit of flying low is rapid re-entry. Avoiding collisions is another pressing matter. The satellites are equipped with tracking technology from the U.S. military to dodge debris or spacecraft;

More than 1000 satellites are now in orbit and 10,000 users in for beta testing phase ie available for U.S. and Canada only. Users will connect to the constellation with a terminal the size of a small or medium 10-inch box. Apparently, it doesn’t require special expertise to install. You plug it in and aim it to get a clear view of the sky. While it might be easy to use.

Starlink can work on moving objects as trains and people can potentially use it no matter where they are at sea. as per Elon Musk

SpaceX wants to test it out on its drone ships used to help land the boosters of the Falcon 9 rockets. There is a more substantial impact for people who already have good internet.  As more of the world goes online, this will change the demographics of the web,  the languages that dominate, where the advertising dollars flow,  what businesses emerge to cater to new users. 40%  of the population doesn’t have internet access. If billions of people come online, the world wide web will look like a very different place. And it could happen very soon.

SpaceX wants to roll it globally by 2021 or 2022. SpaceX is banking on Starlink to eventually bring in 30 billion dollars a year – 10 times more than what it makes launching payloads to the International Space Station.

As of 27 January 2021, SpaceX has launched 1,035 Starlink satellites (including demo satellites Tintin A and B) and the Estimated speeds: 50Mbps to 150Mbps latency around: 20ms to 40ms Costing $499 USD for the phased array antenna and router with $99 per month subscription.

  • How satellite internet is better than a wired connection?
  • Will it be a seamless experience?
  • Can we have interrupted service even during cloudy or bad weather?
  • Lunching so many satellites into space will disgrace the beauty of the sky?

So many question right Find out in the next post;