TWIFT | Digital | Starlink will soon allow SpaceX to invade the Earth and even Mars

Starlink will soon allow SpaceX to invade the Earth and even Mars

SpaceX is on the verge of launching Starlink, a next-generation satellite network project that is intended to provide broadband Internet access to the whole world. The company has been sending satellites into space since May 2019, and in March 2021 it has successfully launched a subsequent series of Starlink satellites, raising their number in orbit to 1 300 which is about 8% of the 2027 plan. Each satellite weighs 260 kg and is designed to complete 100 missions. Every time it returns to the floating platform with a poetic name “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean. The official launch of Starlink in the United States and Canada took place at the end of 2020, and in 2021 it is expected to expand worldwide. The service is currently boasting more than 10 000 clients and is readily accepting pre-orders from its potential customers, who have been living without access to high-speed Internet as one of the top priorities and vital human needs. What is more, Microsoft has already come to terms with SpaceX and agreed to collaboratively develop a cloud network based on the space satellites system.

How did it all start?

SpaceX has been developing the Starlink project since the end of 2014 when Elon Musk first announced his plans to cover the Earth with global satellite Internet coverage. Prototype test-flight satellites were launched into polar orbit on a rideshare mission together with 133 other small spacecraft in 2018. As a result, SpaceX was soon launching up to 60 satellites at a time and the idea net charges made up at least $10 billion to design, build, and deploy the constellation. Nevertheless, the technology for reusable rockets production will dramatically change the cost and feasibility of a network consisting of thousands of Internet satellites.

The idea of broadband is to cover the entire planet with a network of telecom satellites at low heights of 500-2000 km from the Earth’s surface. One satellite can serve only a limited area, for example, the size of Alaska, so every single satellite will cover a specific area. The success of the project will lead to a breakthrough in the telecom infrastructure worldwide. Developing countries with poor illumination and remote location somewhere in the ocean have become its main financial booster. For example, the population of Africa is 1.3 billion or 16.7% of the world’s population, and quite possibly that it will soon turn out to be one of the company’s potential markets.

Can I connect my home to the Internet?

You can certainly do it! Starlink made it possible to give access to high-speed broadband Internet in any rural area where it was first unreliable or completely unavailable. The hardware includes a satellite dish and router, which you can set up at home to receive the signal from space even if you are living in one of the Indian slums or huts on Everest Summit. Well, it may sound a bit exaggerated as Starlink’s coverage map is currently limited to parts of North America and the UK and it is only available in the USA, Canada, and some regions abroad. Yet, the number of its potential users keeps steadily rising while more satellites are constantly joining the constellation.

What have I got to do to become a user?

All you need is to go to the official SpaceX website, fill out a request form and follow these simple steps.

  1. Provide your residential address or the exact location where you are going to use the terminal.
  2. Make an advance payment of $99. Your money will be refunded when you receive the terminal and will be credited to your balance immediately after connection. This amount will be counted as a monthly fee for the first month of use in case you receive an invitation and buy the necessary hardware.
  3. Indicate your email (it will serve as an indicator to your account) and submit an application within 15 minutes. If during this time the money is not credited to your Starlink’s account, you will have to repeat the procedure from the very beginning.

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Keep in mind that the number of connections in each region is limited. Therefore, the service will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who registered earlier will be the first to receive the coveted terminal.

How much will the connection cost me?

The only reason that might prevent you from opting for Starlink is its initial setup cost, $499 including the router and satellite dish.  SpaceX has committed to cover most of the end-user costs for the terminal and antenna. According to experts, the initial setup cost is at least $2000 but the company sells it to its end users for about 25% of the cost price and does not require signing a long-term contract.  

One of Starlink’s most distinguishing features is no data limitations in comparison with other satellite Internet providers. In addition, it can perform better for fast-paced gaming just because it has got lower latency. It does have a hefty installation cost, but its monthly charge is reasonable enough, so it might be worth checking out if it is available in your area. 

SpaceX intends to expand its influence in 25 countries by the end of this year. So the company is going to build a Starlink kit production facility in Austin, Texas. The company has also applied to become the first satellite Internet provider for moving objects like ground vehicles, ships, and aircraft. According to media reports, the telecom project Starlink is part of Elon Musk’s plan to cover the costs of more ambitious and promising projects such as space flights and establish a human settlement on Mars. It means that SpaceX has already started testing Starlink’s trial version on Earth to establish a satellite constellation on Mars.

Are there any downsides of satellite Internet?

One of the major disadvantages of satellite Internet is its dependency on unpredictable weather conditions. A heavy snowstorm, rain, or wind can have a tangible effect on the speed of your Internet connection, slow it down, or lead to a rare outage. That is why you had better install it in an open space that is far from obstructions and protected from downfalls. At a global level, mankind can face the issue of space junk congestion in orbit resulting from mass satellite launches. It is formed from the debris of devices that rotate crazy fast posing a danger to other satellites, orbital stations, and space rockets. According to the European Space Agency, there are about 3200 broken satellites in orbit uselessly flying around the Earth. Another pressing issue is that both rockets and satellites release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere which destroy the ozone layer.

  1. A total of 1383 satellites have already been launched in orbit, some of them are just test samples and prototypes.
  2. Customer pre-orders are being accepted from anywhere in the world.
  3. The residents of the United States and Canada, who had previously registered on the Starlink website, received their invitations to connect on a commercial basis.
  4. The residents in the South of Great Britain will have received their invitations by the end of April 2021.
  5. Such countries as Greece (islands), Australia, Germany (Bavaria and mountain regions) are next in line.
  6. The first available Starlink package is called Better Than Nothing Beta.
  7. The data transfer rate can range from 50 Mbps to 200 Mbps.
  8. Low latency network connection (15ms-40ms) and no data limits.
  9. Initial Starlink service is priced at $99 a month – plus a $499 upfront cost to order the Starlink Kit.
  10. There are 10 000 Starlink users in the world, to date. By 2027, their number will grow up to 42 000.

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