SpaceX has announced the launch of six to eight additional satellite clusters in the coming months, to raise its constellation to 30,000 satellites. Its service will be marketed mid-2020 in the United States.
Today, if you want fast Internet access, you have a choice between your cable company, and that’s about it. But things are about to change. SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service will be available in the US starting in the second half of 2020.
SpaceX is expected to make six to eight more Starlink satellite clusters, she said at a meeting in Washington. Each launch of Starlink will put into orbit 60 small satellites. These launches will provide enough satellites to provide services to US customers.
According to SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, SpaceX needs about 400 Starlink satellites to provide “minor” coverage and 800 for “moderate” coverage. For global coverage, 24 more launches will be needed. In the end, the Starlink satellite constellation can have up to 30,000 satellites.
A connection of 610Mb / s to the cockpit of an airplane
Still, even with less than a hundred satellites, Starlink works today, as demonstrated by the leader of the company by addressing a tweet on the network in low orbit (LEO) October 22 last. Less spectacular, but a better proof of the usefulness of the network, SpaceX and the US Air Force Research Laboratory were able to provide a 610Mb / s connection to the cockpit of a twin-engine American C-12 twin-engine military aircraft.
For terrestrial users, SpaceX predicts that once the final deployment is optimized, the system will be able to provide broadband (up to 1 Gb / s per user) and low latency services to consumers and businesses. first in the United States and then in the rest of the world.
SpaceX promises latency around 25 ms
Low latency, thanks to its LEO, could make Starlink a winning network. Satellite internet is not new: HughesNet has been providing satellite services since the 1990s. However, the main problem of satellite internet is its latency, ie the delay between the moment you start an activity on the Internet and when you receive an answer, remains.
A good terrestrial broadband gives you a latency of about 8ms to 20ms. Traditional satellite internet, because of the distance of its geosynchronous satellites, is based on a latency of more than 600ms. This effectively makes it impossible, for example, to organize videoconferences or games over them.
Despite this original lack of satellite internet, Patricia Cooper, SpaceX’s vice president of government affairs, promised that StarLink will have latencies as low as 25 ms. “We still have a lot of work to do,” said Gwynne Shotwell, who said consumers will receive a user terminal without specifying whether it will work as a standalone device or as a cable modem / router.
Note that getting Starlink services could cost about $ 80 a month, although there is still no official information on this.