• Anukaran Banyal

You could get 'Internet directly from Space' very soon

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

SpaceX’s next project is somewhat an idea out of a science fiction movie. The project named “Starlink”, started in 2015 with an idea of providing internet to everyone in every corner of the world. It is basically a constellation of satellites being constructed by SpaceX that will be inter-connected and through ground receivers will provide high speed internet to its users. Let's dive deeper to check out what exactly is in play here.

How does Starlink work?

The goal of providing high speed internet anywhere in the world will be achieved through a train of small satellites launched into Earth’s lower orbit. These satellites, weighing 260kg each, will be connected to each other through lasers. The satellites will then be capable of transmitting fast internet signals down to Earth. Now naturally, the next question comes up..

How many of these satellites are required?

The company launched its first test satellites in 2018 which were followed by 60 official ones in 2019. As of this writing, the company has launched about 650 satellites.

Permission for 12,000 of these satellites has been granted, with the ultimate goal of launching 42,000 satellites to complete the “Starlink constellation”. That’s definitely a lot.

What does Starlink offer?

As of right now, there is no official pricing given to have a Starlink Connection at your home but it is expected to match or under-cut a number of service providers, especially in North America.

The expected download speed of the service is 1Gbps all across the globe. The company is working on establishing strong connections in rural areas too.

When will Starlink be available for everyone?

The Beta version has started to roll out for users in North America. The plan is to expand Starlink to other parts of the world in 2021.

This service will also be designed for direct fixed connections to homes. So while it can be connected to your smartphones like a Wifi connection but do not expect 4G/5G like direct connectivity to your phones, atleast not for now.

Will Starlink cause any problem?

SpaceX team has been answering a lot of doubts regarding the problem of having thousands of satellites in low orbit in a train formation. For those who are worried about a satellites failing and falling out of the sky, the satellites are equipped with thrusters which will safely direct them out of the orbit and burn up in the atmosphere. Another issue of light pollution in the night sky is being looked at which can cause problems for Earth bound telescopes. SpaceX says they are working on reducing that too.

So there you go. “The future” seems to be coming close really fast and about this time next year you could be able to see a constellation of satellites in the sky, via a telescope, sending high speed internet connection to us Earthlings.

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