In a bit to get in on (and improve) the home internet industry, SpaceX announced its goal to launch 12,000 satellites into space. They have had this plan in progress since early 2019. This would help to create a low-orbital satellite network and the first-ever SpaceX home internet service.
Currently, SpaceX has built over 100 of those satellites and aims to launch its network later on this year. The biggest question on everyone’s mind when it comes to this network is just how fast can SpaceX home internet be.
What Does the CEO Say?
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX was at the ready for an answer. Addressing the press at the Satellite 2020 conference, Musk said that the network would have extremely low latency of about 20 milliseconds. This is music to the ears of gamers everywhere. This means they will be able to play any fast-response game competitively without worrying about latency problems.
The theory is that if the SpaceX home internet service can speed up gaming speeds, then it can surely do the same for streaming. After all, gaming requires latency and speed levels that are way beyond the demands of streaming services.
At what cost will SpaceX home internet’s latency come? According to Musk, it will be an affordable service although there are no official numbers yet. The only thing experts know at this point is that the company aims to launch at very competitive prices. This is all while providing high-speed internet as soon as early 2020.
Five years is how long astronomers had to embrace SpaceX’s Starlink internet-satellite megaconstellation. However, when the spacecraft’s first few consignments launched, the community seemed to be caught off guard.
This is despite the fact that Elon Musk first alluded to a Starlink-like concept back in early 2015. He even explained that SpaceX’s plan was to unveil about 4, 000 low-orbital broadband satellites that could offer low-cost internet service.
But, things have changed since then. The company has gained the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s approval to launch approximately 12,000 Starlink craft into space. That’s not all, however, as SpaceX has also made an application for the approval of an international radio-frequency regulator. This would result in about 30,000 extra satellites.
To give you an idea of what this means, consider the fact that currently orbiting the Earth are 2,000 operational satellites. Throughout history, humans have launched about 9,000 spacecraft to date in total.
Starlink has about 200 spacecraft currently orbiting the Earth since Space launched the first 60 satellites last year. This includes two more batches in November and January.
These awe-inspiring missions are a great inspiration for casual fans of space and professional astronomers alike. Soon after launch, the craft hung in the sky like a string of pearls racing after each other in the sky. However, their formation soon separated before climbing all the way up to an altitude of 550 kilometers above the surface of the Earth. You can still see these Starlink spacecrafts if you look into the night sky well enough.
In fact, the astronomy professor emeritus at the University of Michigan marveled at how bright the satellites were once they were in the sky. They even went on to call them a megaconstellation. The astronomy community certainly wasn’t expecting a magnitude of 4 or 5 in the operational orbits.
How Are These Measured?
It’s important to note that astronomers use a magnitude scale where the brightest objects in the night sky are given lower numbers. For example, the sun which is the brightest observable object in the sky has a magnitude number of -27.
On the other hand, the tiniest object which is observable only with binoculars has an assigned magnitude of +10. In case you’re wondering objects that are visible to the naked eye at night usually have a magnitude of about +6 or more.
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Many astronomers are taken aback by the surprising brightness of these crafts. Some researchers have even alluded that when SpaceX launches another 1,600 more of these, they could make it very difficult for ground-based scopes to do their job properly.
The Vera Rubin Observatory is said to be the most at-risk project to date. This large instrument is currently rated as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) and is said to launch pretty soon from the Chilean Andes.
The great thing about this survey telescope is that it’s extremely sensitive and has a wide field of view that allows it to deliver stellar results. But, the additional of Starlink craft can and will saturate the detectors from LSST.
As it appears, it’s not only the astronomical research fraternity that will be affected by Starlink. This is as dark-sky advocates state that it will disrupt the beauty of the night sky. It could create unnatural light that interferes with our ability to enjoy a natural, star-filled night sky.
According to the International Dark Sky Association, our ability to see the night sky in its natural form in natural parks and reserves is an important aspect of human nature. It helps us cope with the effects of urban living.
The association believes that the night sky is a common resource that’s meant to achieve common public good. Therefore, it’s up to us as a human community to protect it. We shouldn’t allow a single individual or company to exploit or damage it as SpaceX home internet might.
What are your thoughts on SpaceX home Internet? Are you excited about the project and looking forward to getting competitively priced fast Internet?
Let us know in the comments section below. We love hearing from you!