Tech lovers might finally get the opportunity to test out Elon Musk’s latest ambitious, dare we say daring, project. In the next six months, Starlink is prepped and potentially ready to be beta tested for the general public, according to the real life Tony Stark and prolific tweeter, Elon Musk.
The news broke when the SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO replied to Tweet asking about the star of the private Starlink beta, to which he replied “Private beta begins in ~3 months, public beta in ~6 months, starting with high latitudes.” In other words, the beta program is starting up in North America, namely the U.S. and Canada.
Private beta begins in ~3 months, public beta in ~6 months, starting with high latitudes
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 23, 2020
A project under Musk’s space program, SpaceX, Starlink marks the company’s entry into a crowded field of broadband Internet service providers, but Musk isn’t one to shy away from ‘impossible.’ After all, he’s literally taking on rocket science. But of course in Musk fashion, his plan adds a twist to convention.
Where most satellites circle Earth in high orbit, Starlink uses nanosatellites in low orbit to create a ‘constellation’ of satellites. Of course there’s the concern that clusters of satellites might be an eyesore and clutter the sky, which might be the case in the short term, but Musk has specified that Starlink satellites will eventually become invisible even to telescopes.
This constellation set-up combined with the altitude can boost Internet speeds to up to 1 Gbps for a select few areas. This is faster than the standard broadband connection in the United States, and makes for a practical solution to deliver faster Internet connections to rural areas.
While Musk is boasting of his ambitious plans and aggressive timeline, the economy and complications resulting from the recent global pandemic that’s affecting the world and could put a kink in the schedule.
At the least, until now, things are looking up. In 2018 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved SpaceX’s request to allow 4,425 satellites to orbit Earth between altitudes of 1110 km and 1325 km, and just last year gave the company a green light to lower the altitude for 1,584 of SpaceX’s Starlink nanosatellites.
But we’re likely years away from Starlink becoming a viable solution that’s deployed to the masses, as it’s not unheard for tech companies to idle products in public beta for years. Then again, this is Elon Musk we’re talking about. We shouldn’t be surprised if he surprises us.