SpaceX has created a different way to serve internet through their new Starlink satellites. Beginning in early 2021, they will start the sign up for their satellite to customers in the southern US. Elon’s ambitions have brought us a new way to access the internet with many new improvements that can meet the needs of users anywhere, priced at $99 monthly. Through their plan to serve the network through their usage of thousands of satellites, or a “constellation of low Earth orbit” satellites, they aim to provide stable internet nearly anywhere. Articles appear consistently with developments of their work, and this blog intends to summarize what exactly Starlink is, what the benefits are and what makes it so different, and when and how it will be available.
“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.”https://www.starlink.com/
Starlink seeks to improve a significant tool in our routine affairs and simplify our lives through a new approach. But this also brings the question of why now, and what makes it such a different investment. In modern times, the usage of the internet has made it a necessity in the lives of most and a crucial piece of infrastructure. The internet has transformed into a critical part of performing day-to-day activities for the majority. As the importance and significance of the internet’s presence grow, the idea of having a high-speed net be accessible around the globe appeals to most. They aim to provide full coverage, which is incredibly beneficial when considering remote areas, places which until now would never be expected to have internet or service. From the middle of the ocean to the top of mt. Everest, you would eventually have service through the satellites as the internet service availability and areas expand. Starlink will have a performance surpassing the traditional internet satellites which we use today through the satellites’ advanced technology. With the limits provided by traditional ground infrastructure as well, the ability to access the internet only goes so far. However, Starlink attempts to deliver high-speed broadband internet, even in locations where the internet is more often than not unreliable. With their new technology, they plan to eliminate that internet connection unreliability everywhere through rapid expansion to near-global coverage, while keeping space clean as they continue with their work.
Getting more into the actual build and technology of the Starlink satellites, their website provides graphics and in-depth explanations and data. The design of the satellites makes it so that each individual one has an approximate weight of 260kg features its own compact and flat-panel design. These satellites have been made to keep space clean as well through their own propulsion system and process to deorbit and self-destruct by burning in the Earth’s atmosphere over the course of a few years once they outlive their usability. The design is also made to be more compact by having a unique design for minimizing volume and having less mass. The satellites plan to be built with 4 powerful phased array antennas each, and each features a single solar array as well. This is made to further simplify the build and system and the solar arrays are easy to integrate into the manufacturing process. The Starlink satellites are also equipped with “efficient ion thrusters powered by krypton that enable the satellites to orbit raise, maneuver in space, and deorbit and the end of their lives”. This makes Starlink the first krypton propelled spacecraft that has ever flown. Finally, these satellites are also built with a star tracker and autonomous collision avoidance. Utilizing a tracking system these satellites perform automatic maneuvers and avoid collisions, which can prove to be useful in reducing human err in such situations as well. The tracker uses a custom-built navigation system of sensors which helps enable precise placement of broadband. These improvements and differences make Starlink satellites a more reliable and modern approach to internet access. In summary, SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet servers have proved to be quite an innovative option for internet access, through this summarized analysis of its features and capabilities.
Starlink will eventually offer service nearly everywhere on the globe which is not possible using cellphone towers. Made to provide service in all locations and still be affordable as well as keep space “clean”, these satellites are game-changers. At the moment you can only sign up as a Starlink Beta Tester depending on if your current location is eligible for participating in the program, but during early 2021, dozens of families in rural areas of the southern parts of the US will receive it for free. They are currently testing their service in the northern US and southern Canada, and once available (currently there is no given estimate of when exactly) the initial Starlink service cost will be priced at $99 a month and $499 additionally to order the kit for a router, mounting tripod, and user terminal to connect to the satellites. In conclusion, Starlink is a constellation of compact satellites made by SpaceX to provide internet worldwide, aimed to expand to near-global coverage, and has targeted service in the US and Canada at the moment.