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  • Matthew Spencer - Tech Journalist

SpaceX's Starlink just landed its first aviation customer

SpaceX has just signed its first deal to deliver in-flight internet access on aeroplanes. JSX, a semi-private airline, will equip 100 of its aircraft with Starlink receivers, giving in-flight wifi to customers without the need for logging in "or other complications associated with legacy systems," according to JSX. By the end of 2022, the deal will be operational.

Starlink is intended to connect rural, underprivileged regions to the internet. Still, the business has proposed in a file with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to connect moving vehicles to Starlink, including planes, ships, and heavy trucks.

Elon Musk tweeted in June 2021 that Starlink was focusing on regulatory clearance for Boeing's 737 and Airbus's A320 planes since they served the most people.

In the middle of April 2022, the CEO of Delta Airlines confirms that they have tested Starlink's satellite internet technology onboard its planes. Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, said in 2018 that aeroplane Wifi should be free, and Delta tested free internet on certain flights for two weeks in 2019. In March 2022, the airline announced that it would begin delivering Vast satellite internet on more than 300 planes for a flat fee of $5 each flight. In June 2021, they conducted a meeting with Elon Musk to use SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet facilities on their plane.

On the other hand, Starlink is a galaxy of multiple satellites that orbit the planet closest to Earth, at about 550 km away, and cover the whole world. It takes less time for Starlink satellites to send and receive data because they are in a low orbit. This is called "latency," and it's a lot less than with satellites in geostationary orbit. That's why people will be able to make video calls, play online games, and stream movies and TV shows.

Starlink's customer satisfaction depends on a constant supply of satellites launched into orbit by SpaceX's flagship Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX has launched over 2,300 Starlink satellites and plans to launch over 30,000 more. Some researchers and other stakeholders have raised questions about the mega constellation's potential influence on astronomy, launch services, and the space junk environment.

With additional satellites in space, "users can expect to see download speeds between 100 MB/s and 200 Mb/s, and latency as low as 20ms in most locations." Even though they did not mention specific speeds at the height of 30,000 feet (9 Kilometers) above Earth, we guess they will come in the future.

Starlink is Elon Musk's first internet project that launched thousands of satellites in space. Startup JSX deals with Starlink as the first aviation customer that will give them proper access to the internet. The internet service provider is testing out internet services for aircraft. Elon starts niche-based products that come to great use but can be pretty costly.

Running a data centre and starting a new kind of internet business from the ground up is not an easy venture.

Satellite internet on the plane is way better than air-to-ground internet. Because when planes travel over mountains or oceans, there will be no tower on the ground to provide internet to the aircraft. But satellites can be everywhere and provide quality internet to the airline customer. Most come from single geostationary satellites that orbit the planet about 35,000 km away when it comes to satellite internet.

Equipping Embraer SA 145 jets with Space Exploration Technologies Corp at a higher speed should come to great use. Users on aviation aircraft can conduct business on the fly without interrupting aircraft signals. At the moment, most of the US and Europe have access to Starlink internet, along with portions of Brazil, Chile, southern Australia and New Zealand. With growing networking equipment settlement, we should see marginal growth of satellite internet in the coming days.


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