On Wednesday June 3, SpaceX launched a fresh batch of 60 satellites as part of its Starlink project. This project has been picking up steam since 2019 and has been generating a lot of buzz lately.
But many around the world, who have heard of the word Starlink, still don’t know about the project, what are the objectives behind it, the costs, etc.
We at FollowElonMusk.com, are happy to provide you with these details and answer the most frequently asked questions.
What is Starlink?
Starlink is a satellite constellation development project undertaken by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, in order to provide high-speed, low cost broadband internet access.
The constellation will fly on low-earth orbit, meaning that LEO has a maximum altitude of 2,000 km.
According to the company’s official website, the purpose of this project is to bypass quote-unquote “ground infrastructure limitations”, and “deliver broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable”
How did the Project come about?
Product development for Starlink began back in 2015.
According to Universe Today, in November 2016, SpaceX filed an application with the FCC, or the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, for a license to operate a constellation of 4425 satellites in orbits ranging from 1100 to 1300 kilometers, each satellite weighing 260 kilograms.
In 2017, SpaceX filed for a new application with the FCC, seeking its approval to launch an additional constellation of 7,518 satellites, bringing the total number to approximately 12,000 satellites.
The first two prototype test-flight satellites were launched in February 2018.
The first official launch of the Starlink satellite constellation occured on May 24, 2019 at 2:30 UTC. The batch of satellites were carried by a Falcon 9 rocket and were launched from Space Launch Complex-40 located at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
There has been a total of eight launches to date, with SpaceX releasing a batch of 60 satellites per launch.
When will the Starlink network become fully operational?
SpaceX stated on its official website that it is targeting service in the Northern U.S. and Canada in 2020, and service on a global scale by 2021. Elon Musk stated on April 23 via a tweet that the private beta for the Northern U.S.A and Canada will begin in approximately three months, and the public global beta in roughly six.
What will be the internet speed offered by Starlink?
According to eoPortal, SpaceX will provide connection speeds of up to 1 Gigabit, or 125 Megabytes per second, with latencies ranging from 25 milliseconds to 35 milliseconds.
This range would make Starlink’s service comparable to cable and fiber providers, while existing satellite broadband services have latencies of 600 milliseconds or more.
What will be the subscription costs?
SpaceX has yet to officially disclose pricing and monthly costs for subscribing to the Starlink Network.
What is certain so far is that Elon Musk discarded the possibility of a free service back in 2015 during a Q&A session at SpaceX’s satellite development facility in Redmond, Washington.
According to an article posted by Inverse, there are two major satellite broadband providers: Viasat and HughesNet, which charge $102.86 and $94.99 on average respectively; this means that SpaceX could charge similar rates.
However, in an interview with CNN last October, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell stated that U.S. citizens are paying more than $80 per month for a “crappy service”, perhaps offering an approximate figure without delving into further details.