• SpaceX’s Starlink will provide users with “gaming level” internet speeds with 15ms latency
  • Millions of base stations around the World
  • Laser transmission from Satellite to base station

SpaceX has been given the go-ahead from the FCC to start building global internet service via thousands of satellites that will make high speed broadband internet available to anyone on the planet.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is creating a system with many more satellites and much lower latency than existing satellite internet service providers.


One of the first two prototype Starlink satellites separates from Falcon 9’s upper stage, February 2018. (SpaceX)

SpaceX currently makes its money by sending up satellites and space craft for government and telecommunications clients. StarLink is expected to greatly eclipse SpaceX’s commercial launch business.

Elon Musk has often said, all of this business is in service of his goal to make humanity a multi-planetary species, starting with going to Mars.

“This approval underscores the FCC’s confidence in SpaceX’s plans to deploy its next-generation satellite constellation and connect people around the world with reliable and affordable broadband service,” company president Gwynne Shotwell said in a SpaceX press release after approval was granted.

The constellation will have over 4,000 satellites and was first outlined by Musk in 2015 as a way of “generating revenue to pay for a city on Mars.”

SpaceX’s rocket landing capabilities, reduces the $62 million cost associated with manufacturing new Falcon 9 and stronger rocket designs capable of sending larger satellites into space for commercial clients.

The constellation will have 4,409 satellites, each weighing around 850 pounds.

1,584 of them have been moved from their 1,150-kilometer altitude to a much lower 550 kilometers. The lower altitude will bring latency down to 15 milliseconds, SpaceX claims. However, rivals OneWeb and Kepler Communications both claimed the lower altitude could cause interference, something the FCC has denied.

Musk claims Starlink will be lower latency enough to power video games. Access will be delivered to users through a ground terminal the size of a pizza box. SpaceX filed with the FCC for permission in February for 1 million fixed-Earth stations that will communicate with the satellite array. These systems use steered antenna beams to communicate with the satellite it can see in the sky. SpaceX tested this setup in February 2018 by launching two test satellites communicating with six ground stations.

I accordance with the commission’s approval SpaceX must launch and start operating 50% of its constellation by March 29, 2024. It must then complete the rest of the constellation three years after that.

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