The first prototype satellites for the Starlink broadband internet network were launched by SpaceX about three months ago, and today, Elon Musk has taken to Twitter to share how the twin satellites are doing.
Pretty good. TinTin A & B are both closing the link to ground w phased array at high bandwidth, low latency (25 ms). Good enough to play fast response video games.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 26, 2018
Will TinTin A & B be the only demo units Starlink deploys before start of full ?production & deployment? Or will there be a few more? Do you have an (aspirational) timeline for when Starlink would begin commercial service?— G C (@SmileSimplify) May 26, 2018
The satellites, nicknamed TinTin A and B, are equipped with phased-array flat antennas that are designed to maintain contact with the various ground stations found on Earth. According to the filings with the Federal Communications Commission, these stations are located within various SpaceX facilities locations in Fremont, Hawthorne, Brewster, and Redmond.
Will do another rev before final design— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 27, 2018
While satellite internet isn't exactly a new innovation, Starlink's 25-millisecond latency sure sets a new precedent. The main benefit is aimed to provide low-cost broadband internet access to various areas of the world that can't acquire it feasible due to a lack of surface infrastructure.
While Musk's comments on Twitter ensure that the process is going pretty well, they don't provide much detail. Though, it appears this update points to SpaceX capturing the satellite broadband market as they may contribute tens of billions that would go directly to their bottom line. This progression could fuel Musk's other ambitions to send a band of settlers to Mars to ensure humans become a multi-planet species.
While this is all exciting, let's not brush over the fact that the projected latency that this satellite broadband will ensure will allow those who receive it to play video games with very little lag. Various countries are still in a complete internet blackout, with rural and urban areas throughout the world still lacking basic connectivity. With the UN declaring back in 2016 that the internet is a basic human right, this innovation will allow the freedom to connect. And perhaps a more competitive array of individuals present in your League of Legends matches, over time.
A start-up named Astranis has entered the geostationary broadband satellite race, and is currently launching one at a time. SpaceX currently plans to launch thousands of satellites and commence commercial service within the next few years. It has been only 3 years since Musk revealed this project, back in 2015 (when it still lacked a name!), making it a fairly fast moving endeavor. Various other ventures may arise to contribute to thousands more as time continues, so we'll just need to wait and see what the satellite rush has in store.