What is Starlink?
What is Starlink? Thanks for asking!
While the Space Race makes us think back to the 20th century, some billionaires are dreaming of ruling space in 2020. In particular Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, who’s planning to send tens of thousands of satellites into orbit in coming years. The name of the project is Starlink and the goal is to deliver high-speed broadband access across the globe. Behind Starlink is the private company SpaceX, which Elon Musk founded in 2002. Earlier this year, it became the first private company to send astronauts into space. Musk has long held the ambition of colonizing the planet Mars, which remains a future objective for SpaceX. Since 2015, the company has been developing the Starlink megaconstellation of satellites. The stated aim is bold: providing high-speed internet access anywhere on earth. We’re talking at sea, in the middle of the desert or the depths of the countryside.
Doesn’t satellite internet access already exist?
Existing satellites giving internet access are in geostationary orbit and the technology only allows a limited number of users to access it. Latency times are also high, due to the 20,000 mile distance between the satellites and us on Earth. Starlink, on the other hand, sends satellites into Low Earth orbit at 550 miles. Latency will be reduced, and as the satellites will orbit more quickly, they will be able to cover the whole of the planet. Starlink has been authorised to send 12,000 satellites into space. To put that into perspective, Earth currently has just 2,200 artificial satellites.There are already 600 Starlink satellites orbiting, with the first launch mission dating back to February 2018. Service is set to be available in North America by the end of the year, with “near global coverage of the populated world” promised for 2021.
What about 5G? Are there environmental risks in sending all these satellites into orbit? In under 3 minutes, we answer your questions!
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