SpaceX’s Starlink constellation aims to provide high-speed broadband internet all over the world directly from space with of the low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites.
SpaceX’s goal with Starlink is to provide internet access in regions where broadband networks are not available to people. The satellites, part of the Starlink constellation, fly around the planet in chain-like formation providing internet connectivity which is touted to be fast, affordable and will be available even in the most remote regions of the world.
We’ll have to wait and watch how the Starlink network turns out to be which might be pretty soon. About two months ago, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealed on Twitter that private beta for the Starlink program will begin in about 3 months which will be followed by a public beta in 6 months or so. Well, you can now apply to be a beta-tester at Starlink’s official website.
According to ArsTechina, Musk in a Q&A session at the Satellite 2020 conference said that users won’t need to care about Internet speed and that SpaceX is targeting for latency below 20 milliseconds.
If you’re wondering how users will access the high-speed low-latency internet they will be using terminals that look like a “look like a UFO on a stick”. Ars Technica reports that Musk said the terminals do not require a specialist for installation and come with “just two instructions and they can be done in either order: point at sky, plug in.”
Steve Jurvetson, a board member of SpaceX and Tesla shared on Twitter, “Each satellite cluster launch adds 1Tb/sec of bandwidth, with more to come, connecting the next 4 billion people to the global economy.”
Each 🛰 cluster launch adds 1Tb/sec of bandwidth, with more to come, connecting the next 4 billion people to the global economy.
You can track the sky net in formation; select “All” in the Launch pull-down menu at the top of https://t.co/4EWhhaRL5C
— Steve Jurvetson (@FutureJurvetson) June 14, 2020
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According to SpaceFlight Now, SpaceX is launching another batch of Starlink along with the two Earth observation microsatellites made by BlackSky Global on June 23 at 5:58 PM EDT (June 24 3:28 AM Tuesday IST) aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. The mission is called Starlink 9, but it is the tenth launch mission for the satellite internet service which will place about 60 satellites in orbit.
Last week, SpaceX launched 58 Starlink satellites along with 3 SkySats made by Planet Labs. Known as Starlink 8, the mission brought the total number of in-orbit Starlink satellites to over 500. With this week’s launch, the number of Starlink satellites in-orbit will be about 600 which is still long ways from the eventual goal.
SpaceX has plans to deploy 12,000 satellites by mid-2020s which can be potentially increased to even 42,000. But for now, Starlink missions will place 8,000 satellites in an orbit about 500km above the planet and 4,000 satellites in a 1,200km orbit.
Apart from being mistaken for UFO’s, there have been other concerns about the Starlink satellite constellation. According to The Vice, there have been concerns raised by astronomical organizations and amateur stargazers alike, about this mega-satellite constellation polluting the night sky with reflection from the spacecraft.
Last year, The International Astronomical Union in a statement raised concerns over satellites affecting the scientific observations and wildlife stating, “We do not yet understand the impact of thousands of these visible satellites scattered across the night sky and despite their good intentions, these satellite constellations may threaten both.”
SpaceX is working on different solutions like ‘DarkSat’ and glare-reducing ‘sunshades’ to reduce the brightness of satellites. The company says in a statement, “We’ve taken an experimental and iterative approach to reduce the brightness of the Starlink satellites. Orbital brightness is an extremely difficult problem to tackle analytically, so we’ve been hard at work on both ground and on-orbit testing.”
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Image Source: SpaceX (Twitter)