Federal Communications Commission of the United States of America yesterday authorized Starlink systems to provide Starlink Wi-Fi to vehicles in motion. Starlink is a satellite internet constellation manufactured and operated by Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
Starlink’s project kicked off in 2019, and it aims at providing high-speed internet to users by placing a string of satellites in low earth orbit.
With the approval from FCC, SpaceX can now provide cars, boats, planes and many other vehicles with high-speed Wi-Fi connection from the satellite system.
SpaceX believes that this approval can increase companies’ capabilities to provide internet services at an affordable rate to millions of people.
Currently, Starlink provides high-speed internet access to users across 36 countries. Customers who are using the internet services of StarLink from their homes can get access to a network speed of around 100 MB per second. The business version of the internet service, named Starlink Business, can reach internet sped up to 350 MB per second. Firms can sign up for this to get access to uninterrupted high-speed connections.
This mechanism works in such a way that customers can use satellite receiver dishes which will themselves connect to low earth orbit satellites operated by SpaceX.
So far, there has been no confirmation from SpaceX regarding when will customers get access to internet services in moving vehicles.
As of now, over 2400 small Starlink satellites are operating in low earth orbit. The last launch in May 2022 added 212 satellites to the system.
FCC had earlier given SpaceX approval to send 12000 satellites into orbit as part of the project.
Currently, the project is in its first phase, which is expected to be completed by March 2027. The second phase of the project will be completed by November 2026.
The StarLink satellite system is connected to the ground by 32 ground stations. These ground stations are situated all across the USA, with 5 more to be set up soon.
SpaceX signed an agreement with Google, according to which the company can set up ground stations at Google data centres all around the world.
United States Air Force is also testing the capabilities of Starlink systems through live-fire exercises and connecting with planes.
International Astronomical Union
international Astronomical Union and National Radio Astronomy Observatory had earlier released statements citing concerns with the Starlink project.
According to them, the high frequency of these satellites and the number of them in the orbit can disrupt the work of astronomers. They claim that the satellites visible to astronomers will be more than the stars visible, which can seriously affect scientific observations.
There are also concerns about satellite collisions, which can lead to an increase in space debris. An increase in space debris can obstruct future space exploration missions and even space observation.