2 July, 21, 6:27 pm
There has been some exciting news from Elon Musk’s company SpaceX over the past few weeks. One of those being the news that the growing satellite internet network known as Starlink, which is owned by SpaceX, is in talks with multiple airlines to make SpaceX and Starlink the airlines onboard WiFi provider. This would bring the idea of Starlink from being a home WiFi source, and make it fully functional on airplanes for passengers to enjoy. There are a ton of good things that would come from this if SpaceX is able to solidify the deals, and in today’s video, that is exactly what we are going to be discussing.
First, let’s talk a little bit about Starlink, and what exactly it is. Starlink is a satellite constellation that is currently being set up by SpaceX. This specific constellation has the main goal of providing reliable, high-speed WiFi to consumers, more specifically in rural homes. So what is the plan for Starlink WiFi on airplanes? It was announced at a conference in early June of this year that expanding Starlink and incorporating it onto airlines is currently being discussed. This comes as big news, especially since Starlink is currently in its beta form.
As of right now, SpaceX is in talks with several established airlines. They apparently have their own aviation product in development, which they have also done demonstrations with as a way to get the product finalized in the “very near,” future.
Musk’s company argues that his low earth orbiting satellites are better equipped to provide reliable and fast WiFi to airline passengers. Jonathan Hofeller, the SpaceX vice president of Starlink and commercial sales is quoted as saying “All in all, passengers and customers want a great experience that geostationary systems simply cannot provide. So it’s going to be up to the individual airline whether they want to be responsive to that, or if they’re okay with having a system that is not as responsive to their customers’ demand.”
What he means by this is simple, the fact that Starlink’s satellites are going to be moving at such a high speed, the global coverage they will provide will be a lot easier for the airlines to rely on when compared to a satellite stationed over a specific area. That satellite may have a reliable signal when close to that area, but once you are out of range, you better hope that there is another one on the same system that can pick you up. Otherwise, you will be without WiFi for that portion of the flight.
Starlink being so vast and spread apart, yet constantly moving is going to supply a strong signal no matter where you are connecting from. And who doesn’t want that? Especially on a flight that may last for hours and takes you halfway around the world. SpaceX is clearly planning to help us stay connected.
Starship is SpaceX’s idea of a fully reusable, two-stage-to-orbit super heavy-lift launch vehicle that has been under development for some time, and has recently gone through its fifth test high-altitude test flight from Starbase in Texas. With how low the production cost is for Starlink, which currently is estimated to be around $250,000, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if at least a few were included in the earlier phases of orbital test flights for Starship. Especially since once the Starship is fully approved and tested, it will be capable of deploying 400 Starlink satellites per launch. That’s almost seven times more than the Falcon 9 has managed over the course of multiple missions.