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What Elon Musk’s 42,000 Starlink satellites could do for — and to — earth


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Following is a transcript of the video.

You’re looking at 60 satellites hurtling into the sky. And over the next few decades, Elon Musk is hoping to send 42,000 of these satellites to space, 15 times the number of operational satellites in orbit today. It’s part of Starlink, the expansive constellation from Musk and SpaceX that hopes to bring the world low-latency high-speed internet, promising no more buffering and nearly instantaneous internet in every corner of the world. But experts worry it may come at a hefty cost for space exploration.

Nearly half of the world’s population does not have access to the internet, because most internet options require an extensive track of costly underground cables, leaving many rural locations offline. And while satellite internet can reach those areas…

Dave Mosher: Traditional satellite internet is provided by a bus-sized spacecraft that is launched 22,236 miles into space in orbit around Earth.

Narrator: That distance means the satellite can reach places that cables can’t. But since that one satellite is meant to service a lot of people, its data capability is limited, which then limits connection speeds. And that signal has to travel a long way, creating a lot of lag. This is where Elon Musk and SpaceX come in.

Mosher: Starlink is a globe-encircling network of internet-beaming satellites that is trying to get you online no matter where you are in the world.

Narrator: And there’s a rather persuading element for SpaceX as well.

Mosher: Elon Musk has said he’s just trying to grab a small percentage of a trillion-dollar-a-year telecommunications industry around the world. If SpaceX can pull this off, the company could net about $30 to $50 billion a year.

Narrator: Musk and SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell say that much money could single-handedly fund the development of Starlink, Starship, and SpaceX’s Mars-launch infrastructure. As of early October, SpaceX has launched more than 700 satellites into orbit, with a plan to release a total of 12,000 over the next five years, half of them by the end of 2024. And Musk wants to add another 30,000 to that, coming to a total of 42,000 satellites circling Earth. All of these satellites will also be much closer, anywhere from 200 to 400 miles above the planet in low-Earth orbit.

Mosher: This reduces the connection delay that is found with traditional internet satellite.

Narrator: Once in orbit, these Starlink satellites will be constantly on the move, which is why so many are necessary.

Mosher: The problem is you have to have many satellites orbiting to make up for the fact that you can’t stay in one spot above the Earth. Because you need several satellites overhead at any one time to cover many users.

Narrator: Every satellite will connect with several others via laser beams, creating something like the network’s backbone. And to actually bring this internet into your home, you’ll need to get a pizza-sized antenna. This phased-array antenna can aim its beam at whatever satellite is overhead, which will maintain an internet signal in your home. But this scheme …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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