SpaceX, the rocket company founded by Elon Musk, aims to build a mega constellation of small internet-beaming satellites. The internet network is called Starlink, it will offer low latency, broadband internet all around the world. “With performance that far surpasses that of traditional satellite internet, and a global network unbounded by ground infrastructure limitations, Starlink will deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable,” the company states.
The Starlink network will consist of over 12,000 satellites. As of today, there is a total of 420 Starlink satellites orbiting Earth, these will operate an altitude of approximately 550-kilometers above the atmosphere. SpaceX will conduct its eighth Starlink mission on May 17th at around 4:00 a.m. Eastern Time. A previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket will deploy another batch of 60 internet-beaming satellites into low Earth orbit, from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Starlink customers will receive internet connection via user terminals. Early January, Musk described some details of how customers will receive Starlink internet connection. He shared the user terminal- “looks like a thin, flat, round UFO on a stick.” Setting up the Starlink network will be relatively easy, the user would just plug it into electricity and point it at the sky or vice-versa, with “No training required.” Musk explained,”Starlink Terminal has motors to self-adjust optimal angle to view sky. Instructions are simply: plug-in socket, point at sky. These instructions work in either order. No training required.” The device’s technology is advanced enough to find the signal on its own; Users will not have to figure out where the Starlink constellation might be nor adjust the terminal as it moves through the sky, it would automatically move itself. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has authorized SpaceX to operate as many as 1 million Starlink terminals for customers to receive internet connectivity. The FCC authorization states the required date of “completion, construction, and commencement of operation is Saturday, March 13, 2021.” The company expects to roll-out internet service in parts of the Northern United States and Canada this year, then expand into a global network by 2021.
One America News Network, recently released a photograph of what appears to be a Starlink transceiver at a MAG Aerospace facility. These, are a bit different than the user terminal but serve a similar purpose. MAG Aerospace manufactures aircraft, some are military planes. SpaceX was awarded a United States Air Force contract to test and assess Starlink broadband connection via a terminal hooked to the cockpit of military planes, it is likely the military has been testing Starlink internet with transceivers like the one shown in the photograph above.