No matter where you are, the dream of having access to the Internet may be realized sooner than you think. In 2015, SpaceX, a company owned by technology billionaire Elon Musk, announced that it was developing a service called Starlink. But what exactly is Starlink?
How does Starlink work?
Once fully operational, Starlink will be able to provide Internet access almost anywhere on the planet. The goal of Elon Musk’s Starlink effort is to launch thousands of small satellites, all of which will enter low-Earth orbit. They will be able to transmit fast internet signals to the earth.
What does a satellite look like?
Each satellite of this Elon Musk Starlink project weighs only 573 pounds (260 kg). They are very flat, and then 60 of them are placed in one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets. When they enter orbit, a large array of solar cells powers the satellite.
The main part includes four powerful antennas for Internet transmission. They also have lasers that connect each satellite to the other four satellites in orbit. Finally, they include ion thrusters using k-gas. This allows them to stay in orbit longer even at such a short distance from the earth.
How fast will Starlink Internet speed?
The SpaceX Starlink satellite will be in low orbit, about 350 miles from the earth. Due to the short distance, SpaceX claims that the waiting time should be between 25 ms and 35 ms. For most Internet tasks (including games), the speed should be fast enough.
The download speed should also be very fast, about 1Gbps. SpaceX has not confirmed what the upload speed will be. In contrast, the current HughesNet satellite Internet service provides download speeds of up to 25Mbps. However, its delay speed is much slower, about 600ms.
How many satellites have been launched so far?
The company launched its first test satellite in 2018. This is followed by the official launch of 60 satellites in 2019. As of this writing, SpaceX has put about 540 satellites into orbit.
It plans to launch two more times in July to put up to 120 satellites into orbit. One of them will be held on July 8th, while the other is scheduled to be held in late July.
How many satellites does this service require?
The company has obtained permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to place up to 12,000 SpaceX Starlink satellites above the earth.
It will form a “Starlink constellation” in the sky. SpaceX hopes to place more satellites above the earth. Ultimately, the “Starlink constellation” may have as many as 42,000 satellites in orbit.
How much does Starlink cost?
So far, SpaceX has not confirmed the pricing plan for the service. Gwynne Shotwell, the company’s president and chief operating officer, hinted at the price in a CNN article, saying: “Does anyone pay less than $80 for a poor service every month? No. That’s why we will succeed.”
In contrast Next, the HughesNet service costs up to $150 per month, with a 50GB high-speed data plan (25Mbps) and terrible delays, making gaming impossible, and even tasks such as streaming media are cumbersome.
When is Starlink Internet available?
Musk claimed in a Twitter post in April that the private beta will start in about three months. If the date is still the company’s goal, the private Beta version may start in late July.
He added that the public beta will start in about six months. This makes the public beta around October. The official launch is scheduled for sometime in 2021.
Where can SpaceX Starlink Internet be used on earth first?
Musk said that the private Beta version will first be open to people in “high latitudes” areas. The company has made it clear that the Beta version will first be launched for Canadian residents and residents of the northern United States. The plan will be extended to the rest of the world in 2021.
Frequently asked questions about Starlink
- Can I see the SpaceX Starlink satellite from the earth?: —- When SpaceX first launched a new set of satellites, they could be seen with the naked eye in many places soon. However, they quickly entered orbit. When this happens, they become less visible, but in some cases, they can still be seen with the naked eye, and of course, they can also be seen through a telescope.
- Why is the Starlink satellite so bright?: —— The main reason is that their orbits are much lower than normal communication satellites. According to a Vox article, many astronomers worry that plans to send as many as 12,000 or more Starlink satellites into orbit may cause more light pollution, which may interfere with their Earth telescopes. SpaceX said it is working to reduce the amount of light pollution from these satellites, including experiments with dark coatings on the surface.
- Are Starlink satellites dangerous?: —- There are some concerns about the amount of space debris that thousands of Starlink satellites may generate in orbit. According to this article on SpaceNews.com, many experts believe they may cause problems for unmanned and manned spacecraft. Does SpaceX claim that as long as a satellite thruster is used to safely bring it out of orbit and burn in the Earth’s atmosphere, any problems with satellite malfunctions can be solved?
- Will Starlink Internet be faster than optical fiber?: ——– The speed of optical fiber Internet can reach up to 10Gbps. Starlink’s download speed could have reached 1Gbps, but there is also no news about the upload speed. Therefore, it seems that Starlink will not be faster than optical fiber?
- Will Starlink use 5G?: ——— No. As we said before, the service is designed to be directly connected to a house or business. It is different from mobile 5G technology.
- Can Starlink be used with mobile phones?: ——– No. It aims to provide fixed Internet services for homes or businesses. Reddit user Darkpenguin22 recently released an image of what he claims to be a prototype Wisconsin Starlink tracking terminal. The small circular Starlink tracker antenna is called “a UFO on a stick” by some people. That being said, smartphones can connect to Starlink data connections and their home networks through their WiFi hardware.