The CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, is working relentlessly on a project called Starlink. The goal is to bring high-speed Internet into urban and rural areas across the globe, called Starlink. The satellite constellation of the company is growing strong day by day. Elon Musk has requested permission from FCC to put up to almost 2,000 satellites into low Earth orbit. The Starlink project cover 12000 satellites, and the remaining 30000 are an option which purpose is not well known. Just so you could have an insight into the project’s magnitude. There are only about 2600 active communication satellites that are currently orbiting the Earth, from different companies! For SpaceX, Starlink is only the beginning. SpaceX wants to create a human habitated Moon and Mars bases and many other fascinating projects.
This kind of Internet access will not be able to be used with a mobile device like a smartphone. Instead, an antenna in the shape of a pizza box will be used to receive a signals from the satellites. Elon Musk, even said that the antenna would have motors that will adjust on their own, so they could get the best possible angle to get the signal from the Starlink satellite. Now, you will learn more about the Starlink project, and in greater detail.
1. How will this high-speed Internet work?
The one-of-a-kind technology of the SpaceX's Starlink will provide high-speed Internet to urban areas, and also to rural areas that do not have great Internet speed. Currently, there's a struggle to bring this kind of Internet to the low populated and rural areas, because the infrastructure is costing a fortune. Digging massive tranches and putting cables in the countryside is a time-consuming and costly business. But, they intend to fulfill their goal using low-cost state of the art communication satellites. We've mentioned earlier that the Starlink satellite will communicate with low-cost ground terminals that look like an antenna in the shape of a pizza box. With this terminal, it will be easy to provide high-speed Internet access to low populated and rural areas.
The speed of the Internet will be higher, and it will also have much less latency than the regular satellites that are orbiting the Earth today.
2. The speed of the Starlink Internet
Every satellite of SpaceX’s Starlink is going to be in communication with four additional satellites with the help of a laser. The data will travel to the ground terminal at super-fast speed. In 2016, Musk stated that the speed of the Starlink Internet could reach up to a maximum of 1 GB per second, which is faster than any Internet Service Provider could offer you today. In 2018, SpaceX conducted a test with the US Air Force, and they measured the speed of 610 Mbps, which is still pretty fast. The test was performed in 2018, between two aircraft mounted Starlink Satellites ground terminal. These high-connection Internet speeds are great not just for average users to play online games and streamers who like to play games, but for all users where certain lags not acceptable in communication.
That was everything that you have to know about the speed of this Internet, now let’s talk something about latency. Latency represents how much time does an Internet signal travel between the device you’re currently using like your PC, and the server of your Internet Service Provider, and then back to your device again.
In case of satellite communication, the signal has to travel approximately 35000 km to get to a regular satellite, then it goes to the ISP's server, then goes to the satellite, and finally back to the device you're using to connect to the Internet. Internet latency or regular latency is somewhere around 600 milliseconds.
But, things are a bit different when you compare the regular satellites to Starlink satellites. These satellites are approximately 550 kilometers above the ground, which is far less than the standard communication satellite. This means that the Internet signal will travel much less time, and the latency would be smaller. Back in May, in 2019, Elon Musk said that the goal of SpaceX satellites is to have latency between 10- 20 milliseconds, which is quite impressive when you compare it to the latency of the regular satellites.
3. How much will Starlink internet cost?
Elon Musk said, in 2015, that the user terminal or the device on the ground that will be receiving the signal from the Starlink satellite will cost between $100 to $300. When you look at the price, it is pretty reasonable given the fact that the speed of the Internet could be up to a max of 1 GB per second. However, the price of the terminal could be changed.
The president of SpaceX, Shotwell said we’re paraphrasing, that nobody would pay less than $80 for a low-quality?? service, and that is why Starlink will have great success.
Elon Musk has already said that the Starlink Internet service won't be available for free. When you look at other satellite Internet pricing plans and their performance, you'll see that the Starlink internet will be very affordable. Let's take Viasat, for example. The pricing plans go from $50-$150, and the highest speed of the Internet, which Viasat offers is up to a maximum of 100 Mbps.
4. When will Starlink become available?
The first objective for the Starlink is to provide high-speed Internet access to people in Canada and the United States. After they complete that goal, they will slowly expand to the rest of the world. To cover the entire planet Earth with this kind of Internet access, SpaceX would have to launch approximately 2800 satellites that will orbit around the Earth .
Also, they would have to be higher than they're now. Instead of being around 550 kilometers above the ground, they would have to be at an altitude of approximately 1100 to 1200 km above the sea level.
Also, it is estimated that Starlink is going to test internet services somewhere in mid-2020.iIt comes partially operational , in the year of 2021.
5. Starlink Satellite look
These satellites are light, they weigh around 250-260 kg, and because of their weight, they fly easy. They happen to have four phased array antennas, as well as a solar array that keeps the satellite work.
They have ion thrusters that are working on krypton, and they help the Starlink satellite to orbit around the planet Earth. Each satellite has its own tracker system, whose purpose is to identify the satellite altitude Also, newer satellites are not that bright at the night sky, they don’t reflect light as the older models.
6. Could you buy any stocks in the SpaceX’s Starlink?
As of now, SpaceX is a private company owned by Elon Musk. But, there's a chance that people could buy stocks in Starlink in the future. Also, the president of SpaceX, Shotwell, has said that they would really like to go public and let people buy stocks. The truth is, SpaceX could have a massive revenue if they come to a decision to go public. Musk believes that the Internet could even be a $1 trillion market. Let' say that SpaceX gets ten percent. This means that they would get a massive revenue of $100 billion, which is an incredible amount of money.
7. How can you spot Starlink sattelites?
Let's say you're interested in finding a Starlink satellite, and you ask an astronomer how you can spot them. Almost every astronomer will say that they're very easy to find in the sky. The Starlink satellites are orbiting at an altitude of around 550 km above the sea level. The first satellites of SpaceX were really shiny, and a large number of astronomers were not satisfied when they were seeing them through telescopes. Today, the company is striving to make satellites that are less bright than the previous ones.
If you want to track satellites without having to use telescopes or binoculars, you can do that on the website called Heavens Above. On this webpage, you can also find Starlink satellites and their position in the sky. Also, you can move around the Earth with the help of this app, and you can see up to sixty satellites at the same time. If you're an Android user, you can download the Heavens Above app from the Google Play Store.
8. Starlink’s launch timeline
Up to 22 April, 2020 , there have been 422 satellites launched into space. The goal of SpaceX is to bulid the Starlink network of 12000 satellites that will orbit around the Earth. Half of the satellites will be lauched in the first phase till the end of March 2024, and the second half of satellites has to be lifted till the November, 2028. The remaining 30000 satellites just an option. First, two satellites that went by the names Tintin A and B, and they were launched on February 22nd, 2018.
In this next list, you will see the launch schedule of Starlink satellites:
· First launch: May 24th, 2019
· Second launch: November 11th, 2019
· Third launch: January 7th, 2020
· Fourth launch: January 29th, 2020
· Fifth launch: February 17th, 2020
· Sixth launch: March 18th, 2020
· Seventh launch: April 22nd, 2020
· Eight launch: June 4th, 2020
· Ninth launch: June 13th, 2020
· The tenth launch is planned on July 8th, 2020
· The eleventh launch is planned later in July 2020.
All launches have been a success so far.
9. How will Starlink affect VPNs?
Every time that you’re surfing the web, whether you connect with the help of a Wi-fi network or a satellite such as Starlink, your online privacy, security as well as freedom would be in serious danger, and you could be a victim of a cyber-attack. So, you should always use a Virtual Private Network, which will provide you the much needed protection.
Also, Starlink could change access to the Internet in restricted countries such as China and Russia, because their goal is to provide high-speed Internet across the globe. However, the government of these countries would have to allow Starlink to offer this lightning speed Internet access to its citizens. Also, Space X would have to get a license that would allow them to provide their Starlink Internet access in these restricted countries.
For example, people in Iran have restricted Internet access, and they can only get access to certain websites. The government of this country only allows a couple of Internet Service Providers that can provide Internet access to people from Iran. Starlink would probably damage their business, and there’s a strong chance that they won’t allow Starlink internet. This would depend from country to country. The important thing is that Starlink must have a license to provide high-speed Internet in restricted countries.