SpaceX Starlink preorders open globally as of yesterday. The service has been in beta phase until now, and for only certain locations. But now, you can place your order and receive the equipment as it comes online on your location. Then, the equipment will be distributed on a 1st ordered 1st served base.
How is that? You see, it turns out that going to Mars on a ship full of people and cargo takes money. Lots of it.
Back in Sept, 2016, at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Guadalajara, Elon gave a presentation about the then Interplanetary Space System. When it came time to explain how it would be bunded, here what he had to say:
- Steal Underpants
- Launch Satellites
- Send cargo and astronauts to ISS
He then added that, most likely, the whole enterprise would have to be some kind of private-public partnership. But it has always been a “build it and they will come” kind of a deal.
At 2017’s IAC, Elon adds the notion of making Starship into SpaceX workhorse, turning Falcon 9 / Dragon redundant. Starship could be used for a multitude of missions, including, satellite launch, ISS shuttle, Moon lander, and science delivery platform for Solar System exploration projects. He then drops a one more thing there at the end, with Earth point-to-point general public transportation. It sounds like Starship can get really versatile and profitable.
As it turns out, that wouldn’t be enough.
Enter the Broadband Constellation
Meanwhile, SpaceX had been developing its own satellite business in the background. At least as far back as January 2015, when Elon sort of officially opened SpaceX Seattle (Redmond) satellite development center.
At the time, the idea was to leverage SpaceX’s relatively low priced Falcon 9 plus its reusability to cheaply launch the additional service.
It has since been declared by Elon that it would possibly become SpaceX’s biggest source of revenue. This would secure the development of Starship and kickoff Mars colonization.
It does seem that there will be some time before profitability of this venture. It’s quite capital intensive and it will take some time for satellite deployment and customer adoption.
SpaceX Starlink – What is it good for?
As it seems, information can travel 40 to 50% faster in the vacuum of space than through fiber optics. Starlink consists (to the date) of a mesh of dozens of thousands of satellites communicating with each other and relaying info at very low earth orbits (VLEO?) from ground terminal to ground terminal. These can bypass the web of servers and fiber optic cables that allow you to get to a website on the other side of the globe.
For the end-user, it’s quite simple to operate one of these things. You order one, get the box and put together a UFO-like antenna dish to a cybertruck like a router with an RJ45 cable. The configuration is so simple that you can have it running in under one hour. You do have to provide enough clear view of the sky for the dish to see at least one Starlink satellite at all times.
So, if you live in a major city and you have good access to fiber and 4/5 G, this is probably not the Internet Service Provider (ISP) you are looking for.
Some use cases where Starlink would shine are:
- Shipping and aviation industry
- Catastrophe situations where there is no communication infrastructure of it has been seriously compromised
- Underdeveloped countries with no reliable infrastructure
- Remote or isolated locations with poor or no coverage by your garden variety ISP
- Your do get service but your ISP is ripping you off big time
- None of the above but you’re such an Elon fangirl/boy
How can I get me one of these?
Hold your horses, cowboy. If you live in the USA, Canada, and a few others, you can already order and get one. Otherwise, you can place your order and you’ll be notified of when you can expect to get it.
This is because The Starlink constellation is far from deployed. Plus, only the last few satellites were fitted with satellite-to-satellite laser relay capability. This means that all the others have to be in contact with the user’s terminal and at least one ground station to bounce the info around. And there aren’t so many of those installed yet.
Once those latter models become the norm, you’ll get a terrific internet connection and Elon turns Earth into the largest disco ball ever.
In any case, go ahead to Starlink website and try your luck. Have in mind that the connection is still pretty much in beta level. The package will cost you around $500 with a downpayment of $99. Service should be $99/month (adjusted to your currency, plus any local tax that may apply).
Keep in touch. Cheers!
Galleries and downpayment price.