After the significant deployment of satellites over the last year, SpaceX wants to go one step further with Starlink, its satellite internet service. For this reason, the company led by Elon Musk will seek to solve one of the problems that affect thousands of passengers: not having Wi-Fi on the plane.
Currently, internet service on airplanes is slow and very expensive. And while Starlink won’t be cheaper, at least it guarantees a “great experience.”, closer to what users are used to on land.
Last year, the firm unveiled plans to test Starlink on five Gulfstream jets. And in March, SpaceX requested approval from the FCC to use its satellite internet with the so-called Earth Stations in Motion, industry jargon to refer to basically any vehicle that would receive a signal, including cars, trucks, marine vessels, and airplanes.
“We have our own aviation product in development, we have already done some demos so far and we are looking to complete that product to put on airplanes in the very near future”Said Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX vice president for Starlink and commercial sales.
The company has already uploaded about 1,800 small satellites under the Elon Musk label. AFP Photos
For the high-altitude connection to offer greater stability during flight, Starlink satellites are linked together using lasers.
According to Hofeller, the design of SpaceX’s airline antennas will be very similar to the technology of its consumer terminals, but “with obvious improvements for aviation connectivity.”
Like those consumer antennas, the aviation hardware will be designed and built by SpaceX, the executive added. A) Yes, aerial antennas will be able to link with ground stations to communicate with Starlink satellites.
While, to provide connectivity to aircraft flying over remote areas of the ocean, away from ground stations, Inter-satellite links will be needed, allowing satellites to communicate with each other using laser links without first bouncing signals at ground stations.
The Satellitemap.space site shows Starlink satellites in real time and indicates their range of coverage, as it is updated live with data from space-track.org.
And although this function is not enabled at the moment, Hofeller explains that Yes, it will be possible in the next generation of satellites, which are already being developed and would be the ones that would allow Wi-Fi to be offered on all flights, both private and commercial.
Since 2018, SpaceX launched about 1,800 small satellites with the Satarlink seal of the about 4,400 required to provide global broadband internet coverage, especially focused on those rural areas where fiber connections are not available.
Despite the technology that Starlink offers, competition in the field of satellites operating in low orbit is increasingly fierce.
Someone who also Seeking to step firmly in this intangible field is Jeff Bezos with Amazon’s mega constellations, although he has not yet launched any of his 3,000 planned satellites. While OneWeb of the United Kingdom, already has 182 satellites of the 640 programmed.
All of those satellites will be in low Earth orbit, a domain below the more distant geostationary orbits of larger Internet satellites currently serving the commercial aircraft network.