Starlink: yet another revolutionary technology by Elon Musk

When we hear about Elon Musk it is almost automatic to think of Tesla or SpaceX, probably the two companies that, more than others, contributed to the creation of the myth. We often tend, however, to forget that the tireless entrepreneur, of South African origin and naturalized American, is today also the CEO of Neuralink, President of SolarCity, founder of "The Boring Company" and co-founder of Paypal and OpenAI, as well as to have devised a revolutionary, albeit still hypothetical, technology such as Hyperloop. In short, a curriculum to be envied. Lately, however, the name has been joined by two new and intriguing enterprises: the first, as we all know, is the promise to create the first human colony on Mars in the near future; the second, on the other hand, is to provide high-speed, low-latency internet to the entire planet. Unfortunately, for space exploration enthusiasts there is still a long time to wait to witness the birth of the first self-sufficient colony on the "red planet", but the story is different with regards to the second objective, and this is precisely what we are going to investigate. in the article.

Starlink, does that tell you something? In recent months this name has often been heard of, but not everyone has had the time to investigate the subject. For this reason I will try to be clear and above all fast. Once you have finished these two minutes of reading you will surely have something interesting to say to break the ice at the table!

So what is Starlink? It is none other than the ambitious plan to put 12,000 satellites in low earth orbit, between 500 and 1000 km, to offer high-speed, low-latency and affordable Internet access to anyone anywhere on the planet. In fact, it was born as an internal SpaceX project and, although many are not aware of it, at this moment there are already more than 1,000 satellites in orbit, about a quarter of the total active satellites, an incredible number, in addition to about 10,000 users. who have bravely decided to participate in the beta test starting from October 2020. How is this possible? You know the famous rockets (or rather, orbital launch vectors), partially reusable, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy? Well, with them SpaceX did not simply aim to create the first reusable rocket, thus decreasing (even if only partially) the growing problem of space debris, but with each successful launch as many as 60 satellites were released into orbit going, of from time to time, to increase the number starting from the second half of 2019.

Elon Musk and SpaceX hope that Starlink's unique technology will therefore help bridge the connectivity gap between urban and rural areas. In fact, at this time, rural areas face numerous challenges in terms of accessing the Internet due to the enormous cost of infrastructure and the management of property rights disputes, as well as due to the imperviousness of the terrain. However, Starlink's satellites, as planned by SpaceX, will be able to cover every area of ​​the globe and transmit Internet signals directly to one of the potential future millions of terrestrial terminals and users present on the surface. This means that far less infrastructure is needed to carry that signal to even the most inaccessible areas. As mentioned later, SpaceX claims that the Internet provided by Starlink will be faster and have less latency than the current satellite Internet. Each satellite will in fact communicate with four other satellites, using lasers and will therefore transmit data around the world at almost the speed of light, a speed that only fiber optic Internet comes close to equal. It is therefore a very sophisticated technology that aims, by 2025, to reach 40 million subscribers, generating a turnover of over 30 billion dollars.

Unfortunately, although the number of satellites in orbit appears to be very high and numerous terrestrial terminals are already present, Starlink is still far from reaching the final goal. In addition to the slowness of launches of new satellites, an important problem, also precisely in order to increase the number of terrestrial terminals, is to obtain licenses to be able to operate in individual countries. These are very slow and cumbersome processes, but many countries, especially in Europe, America and Oceania, including Italy, have already started them, giving hope for the best. In any case, as mentioned above, the service is still very limited and not all the countries that have already provided this license still have satisfactory coverage. Despite the current limitations, however, Starlink now seems destined to become yet another revolutionary technology by Elon Musk, a man who, despite his contradictions, is destined to mark the future of our species.

Translated by Arianna Giannino

Sources consulted in the writing of the article: 

Starlink internet, pre-orders open all over the world, also in Italy. Prices and conditions of Massimiliano Zocchi, 10 February 2021, https: // ... 

Everything you need to know about SpaceX's Starlink and 'space internet by Jamie Carter, Hamish Hector, February 24th 2021, Techradar,' https: // .... 

SpaceX Starlink Satellite Internet Update 2021 by Catherine McNally, % 20work, lasers% 20to% 20boost% 20internet% 20speeds. & Text = But% 20Starlink's% 20satellites% 20will% 20beam, user% 20terminal% 20on% 20the% 20ground.

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  • L'Autore

    Stefano Cavallari

    IT: Nato a Gallarate, in provincia di Varese, ha conseguito la maturità linguistica ed è attualmente laureando in Scienze Politiche e delle Relazioni Internazionali, a Milano. Parla quattro lingue, ama viaggiare ed ha origini sudamericane, un “cocktail” esplosivo che sin da subito ha generato in lui una forte passione per la diplomazia e la politica estera, con un focus particolare sul Sud America, per ovvie ragioni, ma anche su Nord Africa e Medio Oriente.

    La sua qualità migliore? Non si ferma mai, c’è sempre qualcosa da imparare, che sia dai propri errori o da chi ci sta di fronte. Tra gli interessi, inoltre, figurano il campo economico e l’innovazione tecnologica, fattori che hanno giocato un ruolo importante per la sua maturazione all’interno dell’Associazione.

    In Mondo Internazionale infatti ricopre rispettivamente le cariche di Referente di Tesoreria ed autore per l'area Tecnologia e Innovazione, incarichi che gli permettono di unire tutte le sue passioni e cercare di dare sempre il massimo per l'Associazione.

    EN: Born in Gallarate, in the province of Varese, he obtained a linguistic high school diploma and is currently majoring in Political Sciences and International Relations, in Milan. He speaks four languages, loves to travel and has South American origins, an explosive "cocktail" that immediately generated in him a strong passion for diplomacy and foreign policy, with a particular focus on South America, for obvious reasons, but also on North Africa and the Middle East.

    His best quality? He never stops, there is always something to learn, whether it is from one's mistakes or from those in front of us. Furthermore, his interests include the economic field and technological innovation, factors that have played an important role in his maturation within the Association.

    In fact, in Mondo Internazionale he holds the positions of Treasury Referent and author for the Technology and Innovation area, positions that allow him to combine all his passions and always try to give his best for the Association.


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