The dream of being able to access the internet, no matter where you live might become a reality sooner than you might think. In 2015, SpaceX, the company owned by technology billionaire Elon Musk, announced it was developing such a service called Starlink. But what is Starlink, exactly?
How does Starlink function?
Once it becomes fully operational, Starlink will be able to offer internet access to anywhere on the planet. The goal of Starlink is to launch thousands of small satellites, all of which will be in low Earth orbit. They will be able to transmit fast, low-latency internet signals down to Earth.
What do the satellites look like?
Each satellite weighs just 573 pounds (260kg). They are basically very flat and then 60 of them are placed inside one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets. When they are put in orbit, a single large solar array comes out to power the satellite. The main portion includes four powerful antennas for internet transmissions. They also have lasers that connect each satellite with four others in orbit. Finally, they include ion thrusters that use krypton gas. This allows them to stay in orbit longer by doing orbital-reinsertion burns, even at these lower distances from Earth.
How fast will Starlink internet speeds be?
The SpaceX Starlink satellites will be in LEO(Low Earth Orbit), around 350 miles above Earth. Because of that relatively short distance, SpaceX claims the latency should be between 25ms and 35ms. That should be fast enough for most internet tasks, including gaming. Download speeds should also be pretty quick, at about 1Gbps. SpaceX has yet to confirm what upload speeds will be like.
Starlink will enable virtually anyone to have access to the internet by providing them with Hing speed, low-latency internet, which will truly connect the globe and bring humans closer to each other than ever before, all from 500 kilometers away, in space!