Starlink is SpaceX’s onerous mission to outspread the reach of the internet to the literal corners of the world. This mission was announced back in 2015 by Elon Musk the CEO of SpaceX.
The mission will have thousands of small satellites that will orbit the Earth at about 550km above the surface level which is considered a Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
The company is working on it to provide cheap and high-quality internet for everyone. Starlink’s development facility is located in Redmond, Washington. The total cost of the mission would be around $10 Billion.
As far as the design is concerned it will weigh around 500 pounds and will be as big as a tabletop. It has a flat panel design. Moreover, it will be having 4 phased array antennas on each of the satellite and a single solar panel. It will use the “KRYPTON ION PROPULSION SYSTEM” which will allow the satellites to maneuver in space and also avoid colliding with the space debris.
It is also the first spacecraft to use the krypton ion propulsion system. These satellites are so compact that they will be stacked on one another and then launched into space, multiple at a time.
The Starlink satellites will be carried by the mighty Falcon 9. The Starlink constellation will be spread into 24 orbital planes with an inclination of 53º.
Now you must be thinking how will it work?
Well, it will work somewhat similar to traditional internet technology but rather than sending a signal to the satellite then which sends the signals back to be receiver it will send signals to the satellite and then the satellite will send that signal to 4 other satellite which it is connected to and then the process will continue till the signal reaches the nearest satellite to the receiver’s location and then the signal will be sent to the user.
All this will reduce the latency and this process will take place in the speed of light. SpaceX claims that the Starlink will provide around 100 MBPS of internet speed and with 25-30 millisecond latency.
Will it be expensive? We don’t know the prices as of now but Musk has said it several times that it would be cheap so that anyone can afford it. The users will need to buy a receiver initially which is according to Musk like a “PIZZA BOX”.
The maiden launch of the mission was back in February 2018 and the latest being on 3 September 2020. SpaceX has already launched 715 satellites till date and plans to deploy a total of 12,000 Starlink satellites and with an extension to around 42,000 satellites.
This mission has it’s share of criticism. As soon as the first batch was launched, various astronomers complained about the satellites being too bright and are causing light pollution. After many disputes now SpaceX uses a darkening coating on their satellites which reduces their albedo. Besides this, there were also talks about the issue of space debris and satellite collision.
For this Starlink has debris tracking technology and has capabilities to maneuver out of the way of any debris or any other LEO satellites. As far as causing more debris in space, SpaceX has said that the dead satellite would deorbit by itself and the majority of its parts would burn off while entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
This mission will bring about 30 to 50 Billion dollars worth revenue annually, Musk stated. Starlink is eyeing to start its services in Northern USA and Canada by late 2020 and will expand rapidly to provide near-global services by the end of 2021.