SpaceX has been in serious talks with “several” airlines to provide its Starlink network on planes, giving a half gigabit connection to its passengers while the plane is in flight. SpaceX vice president of Starlink and commercial sales; Jonathan Hofeller gave details on the plan during a panel at the Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit. Giving passengers access to a faster Wifi network aboard will make sure passengers will be connected. Current On plane Wifi is expensive. The use of Starlink for planes will make the use for Wifi much cheaper, perhaps even free to browse the web.
According to Jonathan Hofeller, Space has provided demos to Airlines already and might announce a partnership with a few large Airlines very soon. SpaceX has already launched about 1,700 of the 4,400 satellites it needs to deploy its high-speed connection. Users on the ground have a satellite dish that automatically turns to get the fastest speed possible. How this will work in a plane is not sure.
According to SpaceX, they developed special antennas for use on planes, currently, inflight Wifi needs contact with a ground station. Once the Starlink consolation is complete this should be a thing of the past. Each Starlink Satalite will be in contact with each other giving global coverage.
SpaceX is launching many new satalites
The space company owned by Elon Musk has been launching 60 satellites per launch with their Falcon 9 rocket. A total of 1,800 satellites have been launched, however, around 120 satellites have been deorbited because of either a technical fault or on purpose as a test. Currently, Starlink has full coverage, however, the constellation will be complete at 4,400 Starlink satellites in orbit. Right now its best-confirmed speed was 209 Mbps (download) and 47 Mbps (upload) with the fastest ping of 15ms. Once the system is complete, the speeds should be increased dramatically.
Satellite internet has been out there for some time now, however, it can be very laggy and is not really suitable to use as a standard internet connection. Starlink tends to solve this by orbiting at only 550 km distance from Earth. This way higher speeds and less lag are possible.
Starlink is not only great for use in planes, in rural places (where there is plenty of in the United States, Australia, and Asian countries around the world) it could really be a life-changer. Where High-speed fiber optic cables are not feasible, Starlink fits perfectly in this gap. Want to learn more? There is this excellent community about Starlink on Reddit.
A faster future worldwide
Hopefully, Airlines will announce their partnership with Starlink Soon, do not expect that the system will work the next day though. Because of the special antennas required, planes will need to be refitted. Also, the FAA needs to give approval if anything is changed to the function of the plane. I would rather expect this to start happening around 2023 after all technical tests and approvals have been passed. It sure will make travel by plane more connected than ever before. An exciting future for the use of high-speed satellite internet is coming! It is unsure when the announcement will be made. We think it might be before the end of the year. We will keep you posted!