Elon Musk Will Provide Internet Inside Flights Via Satellites; Laser To Be Linked With Satellites
According to The Verge, SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service could soon provide in-flight WiFi to airline passengers.
Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX’s vice president of Starlink and commercial sales, said during the Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit on Wednesday, per the Verge. that SpaceX was in talks with commercial airlines to beam Starlink internet to their aeroplanes.
“We’re in talks with several of the airlines,” Hofeller said. “We have our aviation product in development … we’ve already done some demonstrations to date, and looking to get that product finalized to be put on aircraft in the very near future.”
Starlink mainly serves rural communities through its 1,635 low-Earth orbit satellites. A beta kit costs $499 upfront, plus $99 a month for a subscription.
The target, according to Kate Tice, a senior programme reliability engineer at SpaceX, is to bring high-speed internet to areas where it has never been available before and at an affordable cost.
SpaceX plans to use airline antennas, which work in a similar way to existing user terminals but have “obvious enhancements for aviation connectivity,” Hofeller said. The company would design and build tech-specific aircraft, he added.
Low-Earth Orbit Satellites Would Outperform Existing Geostationary Satellites
SpaceX would start connecting each Starlink satellite with laser links that don’t need to bounce off ground stations and so aeroplanes flying over these areas such as remote areas, oceans, can still offer in-flight internet.
“The next generation of our constellation, which is in work, will have this inter-satellite connectivity,” Hofeller said during the summit, per The Verge.
“It’s going to be up to the individual airline whether they want to be responsive to that, or if they’re okay with having a system that is not as responsive to their customers’ demand,” he said.
A Filing To The Federal Communications Commission
In March, the space company requested in a filing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that it connect moving vehicles, including planes, ships, and large trucks, to Starlink, a constellation that could have up to 42,000 satellites in orbit by mid-2027.
“No longer are users willing to forego connectivity while on the move,” SpaceX director of satellite policy, David Goldman, said in the FCC request.