While Google chugs along with its plans for the balloonternet (Project Loon) and Facebook fumbles for ideas after having canceled its Aquila drone, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is pressing along with its own ambitious plan to create an autonomous net of internet-providing satellites under the banner of project Starlink.
SpaceX’s idea, broadly, would see a mesh of co-operative satellites distribute high-speed internet to various regions of the globe – and in a new filing, the company has applied to launch as many as 30,000 satellites in the near future.
Though the news doesn’t mean that SpaceX will seek to immediately launch 30,000 satellites – the company will rather sequentially launch Starlink units at a time – it does paint a picture of the company’s ambitions.
Starlink will initially set out to provide high-speed internet access to North America (namely areas in the United States and in part, Canada) and will then seek to scale its network to global proportions.
In a statement to TechCrunch, a SpaceX spokesperson added that “As demand escalates for fast, reliable internet around the world, especially for those where connectivity is non-existent, too expensive or unreliable, SpaceX is taking steps to responsibly scale Starlink’s total network capacity and data density to meet the growth in users’ anticipated needs”.
Starlink launched its first 60 satellites in May this year, and plans to rapidly expand that fleet going forward. The company already has permission to flight up to 12,000 satellites.
In an interesting tidbit, SpaceX has also confirmed it will turn the base (the Earth-facing portion) of its Starlink satellites back in a bid to prevent its own satellite constellation rom hindering stellar observation and research.
What are your thoughts? Could you see yourself subscribing to Starlink for internet access in the near future, should it be available in your region? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.