How Will Elon Musk’s Starlink Deliver Internet Around the Globe?

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How Will Elon Musk’s Starlink Deliver Internet Around the Globe?

How Will Elon Musk’s Starlink Deliver Internet Around the Globe?


Elon Musk is at it again. The billionaire behind companies like Tesla and SpaceX is known for his audacious plans, and in October of 2019 he took them one step further, when SpaceX sought permission to launch 30,000 satellites into orbit. That’s on top of the 12,000 satellites they’ve already been given approval for as part of their Starlink megaconstellation that aims to beam high speed internet around the globe, starting with service in North America as soon as 2020. For the math inclined among you, that means SpaceX would like permission to launch up to 42,000 satellites into low earth orbit. And the only question I have is: Why? If you were to head over to SpaceX’s Starlink website, you’d see that their main selling point is global connectivity: something that would benefit people in rural areas or in places where current internet service is too expensive or unreliable. And that’s all commendable, since it’d be great if everyone around the globe had access to the internet and the fine educational content available on Seeker.com. But 42,000 satellites is an extreme amount of high tech hunks of metal to launch into space. For context, right now the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs estimates there are about 4,000 satellites in Low Earth Orbit. So SpaceX alone would like to launch up to 10 times that. The idea is to form a web of satellites whose orbits criss-cross and provide global coverage. It seems like a very expensive proposition, so is there more to this project than just making the world wide web truly world wide? SpaceX is a business, and they wouldn’t do something like this if it couldn’t turn a profit. Despite the project’s estimated minimum price tag of 10 billion dollars, Musk believes it could bring in as much as 30 to 50 billion dollars in revenue each year. Why is it worth so much? It’s all about cutting latency time, or the amount of time it takes information from your computer to reach its destination and come back. Here on Earth, the preferred way to transmit large amounts of information over long distances is through fiber optic cables. These bundles of glass fibers carry beams of light from one point to another, taking advantage of light’s extreme speed. But because light has to travel through the medium of glass, it doesn’t reach the same top speed it does in a vacuum like in space. In a vacuum, light travels at nearly 300 million meters per second, but bouncing through glass that speed drops to around 204 million meters per second. That adds a few microseconds of latency per kilometer. So sending information through space could save a lot of time, provided it’s done in the right way. For decades we’ve used satellites to send data to remote parts of the world, but typically the ones we use are in geosynchronous orbit, where they appear fixed over one spot in the sky. To achieve that positioning, the satellites have to be in very distant orbits over 35,800 km high. That means that even using light at its max speed, latency times are around 700 milliseconds. So SpaceX plans on putting its satellites much closer to home, operating at 550 kilometers up. At this altitude it’s impossible for them to stay over one spot— they have to move faster to stay in orbit. Hence the need for so many of them to maintain coverage. But at that distance, a network of satellites passing along information at light’s top speed will have less latency than any fiber optic network longer than 3000 kilometers. And the farther the data has to travel, the more of an advantage a network like Starlink will have over its terrestrial fiber optic counterparts. This high speed link is worth incredible amounts of money to financial markets, where milliseconds of delays can translate to millions of dollars lost as markets shift. Starlink still has a long way to go before its promise can be realized. The satellites will have to be cheap and reliable enough to justify launching thousands, and once they’re up there, they need working autonomous collision avoidance to keep from smashing into other satellites and causing a runaway debris problem. Astronomers are also warning that so many satellites sending so many radio waves could interfere with ground based optical and radio observations, so SpaceX is working out how to build and operate their satellites in a way that doesn’t affect them. And of course SpaceX isn’t the only company racing towards satellite broadband, with companies like OneWeb and Amazon’s Project Kuiper pursuing similar goals. In fact, that may be why they applied to launch 30,000 more satellites: as a move to box out competition rather than because that’s the demand they anticipate. All-in-all it’s another classic Elon Musk project. It aims high and promises huge returns, and it’s not without its skeptics and dissenters. Will a constellation of satellites connect the world while still keeping the skies clear for science and other spacecraft? We’ll just have to wait and see. Even if the speed information is sent around the world speeds up, a slow wifi router can still bottleneck your system. To learn how WiFi 6 will speed up your internet, check out my video on it here. If you liked this episode, let us know in the comments below. And make sure to subscribe to Seeker and thanks for watching.

100 thoughts on How Will Elon Musk’s Starlink Deliver Internet Around the Globe?

  1. None else sees the problem with 100k probes / satellites in low earth orbits idk about you guys but I'd like to visit space not get trapped on earth!!!??

  2. Rural people need other things not this internet and in the age of climate crisis surely we dont need these satellites

  3. SpaceX – Why waste your time on this when you have a infinite universe to explore? Oh thats right space is fake and the earth is flat.

  4. Me and 4 of my friends saw those satellites and thought they were UFO. Then I came back to home and researched about it. And found it were satellites.

  5. reducing a fraction of a second like ~0.03sec to send data from one point of the earth to the opposite point doesn't seem rational enough to put such amount of money on that.
    this seems FiShy

  6. People are so stupid, this is local, just like airplanes.. it passed over aruba today and as little as less than 30 miles away it wasnt visible at curacao.. how does this cheap crap supposed to make my internet get to europe that fast if it went over aruba at the speed of an airplane.. its ridiculously stupid and the NERDS are orgasming for being dumb and not thinking clearly! So what happened to all the rest of the 4000 satellites that are orbiting the earth we should see one every minutes passing over us as bright as the starlink crap..

  7. But question How? is still not answered. Video is too short an missing detailed information, waste of time, nothing new.

  8. actually only 1000 satellites will orbit our planet 24/7.
    the 20,000+ of the satellites will form a link to till it reaches mars orbit.
    we need constant and fast communication if we are going to inhabit mars.
    thus, Starlink.

  9. This is a good idea but hopefully it doesn’t turn in to a Disney + monopoly, before that we send 1000 satellites into orbit we should learn how to clean up

  10. Crazy how people can believe in flat Earth. Just go to Houston and watch elon launch. It's free. Took the family for this launch. Get to watch it all on our phones too. Lots of work for a conspiracy. Ahahaha

  11. Soooo the human race isnt satisfied with abusing the planet and dumping crap everywhere , we've got to do it in space to. Hey get enough up there and we'll have a sun screen to 😎

  12. I feel this is some necessary evil plan to bring all kinds of businesses and astronomy into space…the only thing I worry about is what if an accident would happen? It can trigger a chain like reaction event where every satellite would get destroyed and we go back to the pre internet era…then if space travel gets cheaper will have to go out of Earth…Musk wins again!

  13. Would u do a video about another invention that I hear is revolutionary. It’s called a “comb”. Supposedly you run it through your hair and it makes disheveled people look presentable. Maybe try it?

  14. Whoever controls starlink will control the worlds finances. Definitely a supervillain move by Elon. Although the actual supervillain is behind the scenes

  15. I love this guy. Keeps innovating and delivering what he actually promised.. no BS…. just pure tech. After the official launch of this company or after getting it into mainstream damn, i'll be like.. "take my money" as my ISP's sucking me dry while delivering a very poor yet expensive connectivity.

  16. Elon Musk's companies:

    SpaceX – For Space exploration, advancing technology for space travel and research and currently working on getting humanity to Mars

    Telsa – Developing fully Electric cars to reduce carbon footprint and save the environment, also advancing Self-Driving Car technology

    SolarCity – Company specializing in Solar Technology to improve Energy and Solar Panel technologies and combat Global Warming.

    NeuraLink – Neurotechnology company building brain implant chips to integrate the Human brain with Artificial Intelligence

    OpenAI – Conducts research for the advancement of general Artificial Intelligence, to be safer as a way to benefit humanity as a whole

    The Boring Company – Creating Infrastructure and Tunnels for interconnecting cities and areas together and improving travel.

    Can someone not tell me Musk is our real world version of billionaire Tony Stark?? (I mean he was in Iron Man 2). And with him trying to provide accessible Internet to the whole world globally. This man is just doing things to help the world.

  17. What if he launched 50000 more without permission? I mean who would know? And maybe by the time anyone finds out, it'll be too late. I mean the guy is probly an alien.

  18. This video is very nice. I have uploaded one latest video on the same topic in my channel. https://youtu.be/PQlsjR6osKY

  19. Sir why you come up with same background its not looking good again and again please come up with different background of same format but different in colors

  20. All his designs are susceptible to destruction in the case of Carrington event… n once he activate full autonomy fsd chip.tesla will go bankrupt due to endless lawsuits on any death liability to starship passengers n tesla passengers. Alll death will be sued. N remember only only 1/3 of mars mission so far makes it. N dont let me get started on road accidents or sudden death in car or stroke or heart failure in car or drunk driving of other cars around. Or hijacking.anything with chips can be hijacked or remotely controlled by bad guys or hackers.. So tesla will go bankrupt tru death passengers lawsuits once full fsd is established for sure. People are gna die on road everyday why stupidly be responsible for each deaths??… let people be responsible for their own driving n own recklessness. When tesla establish full fsd or full autonomy… automatically the company is suddenly liable for everyone driving or riding a tesla or hit by a tesla. So this is a huge lawsuit risk…n the magnetic field is weakening at a rate faster… so must faster that scientist are changing update rate.. polar flip or Carrington cme event like 1859 could destroy all internets n all electronics. This will render all tesla n all starship useless. All elon's company is not prepared for Carrington event. He should've opted for hybrids like toyota instead n drop fsd chip n focus on mass production n delivery n profitability instead. If he was wiser. He is taking too much risk in the case of a Carrington event which is not a question of if.. its a question of when.

  21. so i could have internet living in the middle of the mountains, that would be really interesting, no need to live in or near cities anymore, you could even work from home.

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