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Elon Musk sends tweet via SpaceX's Starlink satellite broadband



  Starlink logo applied to stylized earth image.
Enlarge / Starlink logo applied to stylized earth image.

SpaceX's Starlink division is on track to offer satellite broadband service in the United States by mid-2020, an official said today. Meanwhile, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted two tweets showing he is testing the broadband service.

"Send this tweet through space via Starlink satellite," wrote Musk . Two minutes later, Musk sent a follow-up tweet saying: " Whoa, it worked !! "

Musk "has a Starlink terminal at home," SpaceNews wrote today in an article that has a distribution update from SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell.

SpaceNews reported:

SpaceX is confident it can start offering broadband service in the United States through the Starlink constellation in mid-2020, said company president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell. October 22.

Getting there will require the company to launch six to eight batches of satellites, Shotwell told reporters during a media gathering. SpaceX must also complete the design and design of the user terminals, which is not a minor challenge, Shotwell acknowledged.

"Mid-2020" is a bit more specific than the time given in previous SpaceX statements, but we already knew the Starlink service was estimated to arrive sometime in 2020. SpaceX previously said it plans to distribute satellite broadband in the North The United States and Canada saw each other next year.

SpaceX launched 60 satellites in May this year to test the system before preparing for a wider distribution. The company has FCC permission to distribute up to 11,943 satellites and is seeking permission to launch as many as 30,000 more.

But SpaceX can start providing services well in advance of all satellites being launched. While the northern United States and Canada appear to be first in line for service, SpaceX recently asked the FCC to approve an orbital-distance change that would allow the company to also cover the southern United States by the end of next year.

Today, "Shotwell said that SpaceX must complete six to eight Starlink launches – including the one already in May – to ensure continuous upper and lower latitude service," SpaceNews reported.

"We need 24 launches to get global coverage," Shotwell said. "Each launch after that gives you more capacity." SpaceX previously said that there could be 24 Starlink launches in 2020.

Price is still to be determined

While SpaceX has stated that it intends to provide gigabit speeds and latency as low as 25 ms, it is a big unanswered question how much it will cost. SpaceX is apparently still trying to figure it out.

"Shotwell said millions of people in the United States pay $ 80 a month to get & # 39; crappy service & # 39 ;," reported SpaceNews. "She did not say whether Starlink would cost more or less than $ 80 a month, but suggested it would be a segment of the public the company would target as well as rural areas that currently have no connection."

There are some other interesting things in the SpaceNews article. SpaceX wants to offer Starlink to both home users and the US government, and the company is already testing with the US Air Force Research Laboratory. "So far, SpaceX has demonstrated data at a whopping 610 Mbps per flight to the cockpit of a US military C-12 twin-turboprop aircraft," the SpaceNews article said.

Selling directly to ordinary consumers will be a new challenge for the company, requiring sales, technical support and product engineering staff. Shotwell acknowledged that "this is a very different business for SpaceX."

SpaceX is still cutting out user terminal technology, which will be installed in homes connected to Starlink. "To know Elon, he wants everything to be beautiful. So the user terminal will be beautiful," Shotwell said.

SpaceX's satellites use low-Earth orbits that should allow them to provide much better service than traditional satellite broadband systems. But SpaceX isn't the only company planning to use the technology; the company faces competition from OneWeb, Space Norway, Telesat and Amazon.


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