Starlink owned by SpaceX is a satellite internet constellation and provides satellite Internet access. The constellation will consist of thousands of mass-produced small satellites in the LEO (low Earth orbit) and working in combination with ground transceivers. SpaceX has planned to sell some of the satellites for military, scientific, or exploratory purposes. Two prototype test-flight satellites were conducted in February 2018. The company deployed more test satellites and 60 operational satellites in May 2019. Those 60 Starlink satellites stacked together before deployment on 24th May 2019. SpaceX was launching up to 60 satellites at a time in September 2020, designed to deploy a spacecraft to provide near-global service by late 2021 or 2022. The company began a private beta service in August 2020 in the Northern United States and a public beta in October 2020.
The US Federal Communications Commission submitted filings on 15th October 2019 to the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) on SpaceX’s behalf to arrange a spectrum for 30,000 additional Starlink satellites to supplement the 12,000 Starlink satellites already approved by the FCC. Now, Starlink is taking another small step towards expanding its public beta test by opening up pre-orders to budding customers. Whereas previously you could register your interest for the chance to sign up to the satellite internet service, entering your details now gives you the ability to put down a $99 deposit. You’ll then get a target coverage date of either 2021 or 2022 based on your location, along with the ability to pay via credit card. Point to be noted that additional charges include $499 for the Starlink Kit, including a Wi-Fi router and dish (extras for shipping and tax).
The small print states that preorders are fully refundable and can take upwards of 6 months to fulfill, but placing a deposit doesn’t guarantee service. SpaceX FCC filing says Starlink’s public beta test started in October 2020 for people in the US, Canada, and the UK; with more than 10,000 customers already using the service in the span of 3 months. SpaceX has more than 1,000 satellites in the orbit. The company aims to build a network of tiny satellites that can provide broadband internet to hard-to-reach locations where getting decent speeds can be tricky due to a lack of ground infrastructure. SpaceX chief Elon Musk said, “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.” He continued in a separate tweet: “Once we can predict cash flow reasonably well, Starlink will IPO”.