Starlink: Who Needs it and How Does Elon Musk’s Satellite Internet Operate

Using a constellation of satellites, Starlink aims to give everyone on the planet access to a fast and dependable internet connection. SpaceX intends to launch an additional 40,000 satellites into orbit, increasing the current count to over 4,000.

The business provides clients with various tariffs and user-friendly connection terminals. However, the project has numerous issues, ranging from the possibility of satellite collisions with other objects to the effect on astronomical observations.

Why it’s essential

In order to provide high-speed internet throughout the entire planet, including remote areas, Starlink satellites are currently being launched. According to WirelessDevNet.com the key benefit of satellite internet is that it doesn’t require a local network of wired or wireless connections and can be accessed from any location with a satellite signal receiver.

Individual geostationary satellites that orbit the earth at a height of roughly 35,000 kilometers provide the majority of satellite internet services; consequently, the round-trip data transfer time between the user and the satellite is longer.

The thousands of Starlink satellites that make up the constellation orbit the entire planet at a much closer distance of roughly 550 kilometers. Data transmission latency is reduced because every Starlink satellite is in a low orbit.

Stalink can offer satellite mobile communications even in “dead zones” in addition to satellite internet.

How Starlink was founded and evolved

Starlink was first formally announced in 2015, but Ilon Musk had discussed the idea of deploying constellations of 700 satellites as early as 2014. International regulators received documentation from SpaceX requesting the low-Earth orbit deployment of roughly 4,000 Starlink satellites.

TinTin A and TinTin B, the project’s initial two test vehicles, were introduced by the company in February 2018. SpaceX Falcon 9 launched the first 60 Starlink satellites into orbit on May 23, 2019. Numerous satellites were able to ascend to an operational altitude of 550 kilometers with success. At the time, Musk declared that broadband internet access would be launched with the launch of 400 Starlink satellites.

By the end of 2020, SpaceX had used a Falcon rocket to send over 900 Starlink satellites into Earth orbit. The Starlink internet service went live at that point in beta form. 150 Mbps was the fastest speed reported by beta testers, exceeding the range made available for public beta testing.

Starlink’s commercial use started in 2021. About 10,000 users had accessed Starlink’s beta testing program in the US, Canada, and the UK as of the beginning of 2021.

The current state of the satellite internet service

One million people were actively using the internet that SpaceX’s satellites were providing by the end of 2022. The business has launched over 4,300 Starlink satellites for 2023. However, there will be a lot more: the business has applied to launch an additional 30,000 satellites after receiving approval from the US Communications Commission to launch 12,000 Starlink satellites.

Because the speeds of Starlink decrease with the number of connections, SpaceX needs to launch more satellites. In 2022, the average download speed in the United States dropped from 90.6 Mbps to 62.5 Mbps.

How SpaceX intends to rule the entire planet

One way to look at SpaceX’s project is as one of the company’s attempts to become globally influential. In addition to high-speed internet, other fields such as geodesy, meteorology, and cartography can benefit from the use of Starlink satellites. Having fast internet everywhere on Earth should contribute to closing the digital divide and making the internet more accessible to people in other nations and areas. However, a number of other nations, including Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia, are currently absent from the satellite coverage map.

This is how the user terminal for logging into Starlink appears

The Starlink user terminal is a compact, white dish with a diameter of 54 cm and a weight of roughly 5 kg. It is used to receive and transmit data from satellites and is intended to be installed on a building’s roof. Everything you need to connect to the internet is included in the kit, including a Wi-Fi router, power supply, cables, and a base.

The terminals use a combination of satellites and terrestrial antennas to establish a direct connection with the user. The antennas are aimed skyward; when a Starlink satellite crosses in front of the antenna, it connects with it and sends a signal to the user’s router so they can access the internet. Even when the satellite is traveling quickly, the antenna can still track and maintain contact with it thanks to phased array technology. In passing, the Starlink units soaring through the heavens resemble a “train” of lights.

What risks do satellites in orbit pose?

For example, there is a greater chance of objects colliding with space debris when numerous objects are in the same orbit. In addition to falling to Earth, the debris may pose a threat to other satellites and space stations. NASA voiced concerns in 2022 that as the Starlink constellation grows, so will the probability of collisions.

Every five years, SpaceX intends to update its satellites and recycle the older ones, allowing them to burn up in the atmosphere and prevent space debris. Nevertheless, this might alter the atmosphere’s chemical makeup. The satellite’s material, aluminum, releases an oxide known as alumina when it burns. Alumina can alter the atmosphere’s capacity to reflect heat and deplete the ozone layer.

Constellations of satellites can interfere with scientific study. Astronomers see extremely faint light signals through telescopes, and even minute amounts of light can cause interference. The Starlink system’s satellites are incredibly bright. The telescope reflects their light, which can obstruct the ability to detect far-off objects in space.