SpaceX expanded its constellation of low Earth orbit satellites on Saturday with the launch of 53 Starlink satellites from Florida. A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 7:19 a.m. EST and deployed the satellites about 16 minutes after launch, according to an AP report.
What exactly is Starlink? It is a satellite-based global internet system that SpaceX has been building for years to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world. The idea is to beam high-speed, low-latency broadband internet to remote areas.
How many satellites are part of this constellation?
According to a recent Bloomberg report, SpaceX’s Starlink unit has deployed more than 1,700 satellites to date in low-earth orbit. This number could eventually reach 30,000 if it receives the necessary regulatory approvals and market demand warrants.
How does it work?
There are no ground-based internet cables at play here. These satellites beam information through space. It travels 47% faster than fibre optics cable, according to Space.com. On the ground, these signals are received through a dish, which is also connected to a WiFi router.
Where all is this service available now?
Quite a few locations, actually. According to the Bloomberg report, the Starlink internet service has customers in 12 countries around the world. Earlier this year, the satellites beamed internet to a remote fishing village in Chile, which was chosen as one of two places in Chile for a pilot project to receive free internet for a year, a Reuters report explains.
A Press Trust of India report in October also said that the Elon Musk-led internet venture is aiming to start the broadband service in India by 2022. The report quoted Starlink country director for India Sanjay Bhargava, who said in a social media post said that pre-orders from India had already crossed 5,000.
“Our stretch target is to have 200,000 terminals active in India in December 2022. Actual numbers may be much lower than that or even zero if we do not get government approval but it is very unlikely that we will exceed 200,000,” Bhargava said in the report.
The company is charging a deposit of $99 or ₹7,350 per customer and claims to deliver data speeds in the range of 50 to 150 megabit per second in beta stage.