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Space documentarian David Brody and ProcureAM CEO Andrew Chanin discuss Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origins competing in the Space Race.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk teased in a tweet on Monday that Starlink, a worldwide broadband network created by a constellation of satellites, will double customers’ internet speeds to about 300 megabits per second. In addition, Musk said that latency — the time it takes to send data from one point to the next — will drop to about 20 milliseconds later this year.
The tweet came in response to one Starlink customer who showed speed tests ranging between 77 and 130 megabits per second.
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Musk added in a separate tweet that Starlink will reach customers around “most of Earth” by the end of the year, and is working towards complete global coverage by next year before shifting its focus to “densifying coverage.”
“Important to note that cellular will always have the advantage in dense urban areas,” Musk said. “Satellites are best for low to medium population density areas.”
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Preorders for Starlink service became available earlier this month for $99.
Photo courtesy of Starlink
The company’s website emphasizes that the preorders are “fully refundable,” but notes that “placing a deposit does not guarantee service.” The pre-orders will be fulfilled on a first-come, first-serve basis. For some locations entered on the website, SpaceX says coverage won’t be available until “mid to late 2021,” while other areas won’t have service available until 2022.
The full Starlink kit costs $499 and includes a mountable dish antenna, Wi-Fi router, and power supply. The service will be offered first in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
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According to a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, Starlink has launched over 1,000 satellites into orbit and has over 10,000 users in the United States and abroad since its “Better Than Nothing” beta launched domestically and internationally in October.
Starlink’s website said beta users could expect to see data speeds vary from 50 megabits per second to 150 megabits per second and latency from 20 milliseconds to 40 milliseconds in most locations over the next several months as the company continues to expand its coverage.
The FCC filing noted that Starlink’s service is “meeting and exceeding 100/20 megabits per second (‘Mbps’) throughput to individual users,” while most users were seeing latency “at or below 31 milliseconds.”
On February 15, SpaceX deployed an additional 60 satellites as part of its Starlink L-17 mission, the eighteenth mission to date. The Falcon 9 rocket appeared to have plummeted into the ocean after failing to stick a landing on a platform at sea. Starlink L-17 was initially intended to launch hours apart from Starlink L-18, but experienced a series of delays while Starlink L-18’s launch proceeded as planned.
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Musk also hinted earlier this month that Starlink could launch an initial public offering once the aerospace company can “predict cash flow reasonably well.”
“SpaceX needs to pass through a deep chasm of negative cash flow over the next year or so to make Starlink financially viable. Every new satellite constellation in history has gone bankrupt. We hope to be the first that does not,” Musk said. “Starlink is a staggeringly difficult technical & economic endeavor. However, if we don’t fail, the cost to end users will improve every year.”
Musk’s statement echoed comments made by SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell last year that Starlink is “the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public.”
SpaceX recently completed a funding round of $850 million at about $419.99 per share, sending the aerospace company’s valuation skyrocketing roughly 60% to about $74 billion, according to reports. The company previously raised $1.9 billion at a valuation of $46 billion in August, its largest funding round to date.