Regulatory documents indicate that SpaceX wants to use Starlink to connect its fleet of missile recovery ships to the Internet, and will potentially launch a series of tests that could prove that the nascent satellite Internet network is viable for marine use.
First reported by CNBC, the news came in the form of a radio service application filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Sept. 15. Currently, such documents are routine, as SpaceX is working to drastically expand the network of fixed ground stations, which will serve as network hubs for all Starlink Internet services. Carried out through subsidiaries Space Exploration Holdings LLC and SpaceX Services Inc., SpaceX has applied for more than 500 experimental licenses, earth station licenses, and a Special Temporary Authority (STA; temporary communication license without a special license) in the last 1
Hundreds of these applications are licenses for several hundred ground stations in the United States alone, and a few more are dedicated to the increasing use of consumer terminals – smaller antennas designed for individual buildings. However, the September 15 SpaceX application seeks permission to install several user terminals in an active fleet of rocket recovery ships – probably the company’s first attempt to license Starlink’s communications with mobile users.
For SpaceX itself, flexible and responsive low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications services are highly desirable. The company currently relies on ready-made parabolic antennas and traditional geostationary satellite Internet providers to connect a fleet of at least seven active ships used to recover Falcon accelerators, Falcon fairings and the Dragon spacecraft.
For Starlink’s broader business, maritime communications is a fixed, largely limited market worth at least $ 1.3 billion a year in 2019, while the industry estimates growth of at least ~ $ 2.4 billion a year by the end. of the decade. The huge bandwidth, the unprecedented low latency and the low cost it aims to offer mean that Starlink is in an exceptional position to disrupt the maritime communications market, just as it could quickly become a huge figure in the connectivity industry. flight time.
In the short term, the addition of Starlink user terminals to SpaceX rocket recovery ships could potentially mean that these ships can broadcast the live views they bring to SpaceX webcasts via SpaceX’s own satellite network. Starlink terminals are probably too big to fit Falcon missiles themselves. However, the use of advanced phased array antennas and the ability to literally adjust the performance of the Starlink network to meet SpaceX needs, potentially allowing much higher quality live footage in SpaceX webcasts, is likely to even solve the problem. with the satellite network connection instability during the landing of the Falcon drone.
There will be some satisfactory symmetry if Starlink provides even better live views of the Falcon landing boosters, which effectively make the unprecedented satellite constellation possible in the first place.
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