SpaceX is experimenting with a new version of Starlink that uses two satellite dishes rather than one. The satellite internet network is also in discussions with "several" airlines about beaming the internet to their planes.
Elon Musk's space company continues to expand Starlink beyond rural homes and aboard planes as it prepares to launch the broadband network commercially later this year.
SpaceX Tests Experimental Starlink Satellite That Uses 2 Square-Shaped Dishes
Documents obtained by Wccftech reveal that SpaceX's Starlink is working on a new experimental dish. SpaceX filled the paper to FCC last week. The whitepaper claimed that the dish divides the sending and receiving antennas into two squares that will communicate with SpaceX's satellite internet network. The size of each square is 12.2 inches by 12.2 inches.
The design is distinct from the typical Starlink terminal's circular satellite dish, which the company has been sending to thousands of enthusiastic clients. Instead, both the transmitting and receiving antennas are contained in that 23-inch-diameter dish.
The experimental dish and its purpose aren't revealed much in SpaceX's application to the FCC. Instead, the paper notes that the corporation is requesting a six-month license to test the dish in California, Colorado, Utah, Texas, and Washington beginning July 10.
"The tests requested here are designed to demonstrate the ability to transmit to and receive information from a fixed location on the ground," the application said per PCMag. "SpaceX will test antenna equipment functionality and analyze data link performance of the user terminal," it added.
SpaceX applied as they prepare to launch Starlink worldwide, bringing high-speed internet to potentially millions of people. In addition, the business is attempting to cut the $499 upfront cost of each Starlink terminal, which comprises the dish and a Wi-Fi modem, to meet the objective.
The experimental dish could potentially be SpaceX's attempt to improve the Starlink network's speed. Simultaneously, the company is striving to make Starlink available on moving vehicles such as boats, cars, and potentially planes.
Is SpaceX Starlink Internet Coming to an Airline Near You?
Meanwhile, SpaceX's Starlink announced this week that it is in talks with "some airlines" about delivering in-flight Wi-Fi.
Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX's VP of Starlink and commercial sales, told a panel at the Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit that the business is on track to convert its satellite-linked broadband network from serving mostly rural residences to more business interests by the end of 2021.
"We're in talks with several of the airlines," Hofeller told the panel per Gizmodo. "We have our own aviation product in development ... we've already done some demonstrations to date and looking to get that product finalized to be put on aircraft in the very near future."
The company, which billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk established, has been launching Starlink satellites in roughly 60 since May of this year. The most recent Starlink launch occurred on May 26, and the corporation now has approximately 1,800 satellites in orbit. Although it will need to deploy another 2,500 Starlink satellites to provide global coverage, the business has been able to establish a test service, By March, it had over 10,000 users paying $99 a month plus a one-time price of $499 for the Starlink kit.
Apart from its plans to beam internet to houses, Hofeller's comments suggest that the corporation is now focusing on other areas in order to monetize its technology.
Intelsat and ViaSat, two well-known suppliers of in-flight internet services, would undoubtedly be interested in SpaceX's latest revelation, though it appears that Musk's company has yet to clinch a contract with any interested airlines.
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