SpaceX Delays Starlink


Emailed on May 17th, 2019 in The Friday Forward

Elon Musk's SpaceX delayed their Starlink mission last night, which didn't make many headlines in the land of click-baiting tech writers making a mountain out of the mole hill that is Uber's public market performance... 

I'll get off my soapbox.

Here's why Starlink is so exciting and impactful to you, and just about everyone on the planet:

  • On Thursday between 10:30 p.m. and midnight ET, SpaceX planned (and delayed) to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Crammed inside the nosecone was 60 tabletop-size satellites designed to test an internet network called Starlink.

  • Starlink, once complete, would consist of nearly 12,000 satellites — more than six times the number of all operational spacecraft now in orbit. The goal is to finish the project in 2027, thereby blanketing the Earth with high-speed, low-latency, and affordable internet access.

Starlink aims to solve two big problems with the modern internet: a lack of pervasive and affordable connections, and a significant lag between distant locations. SpaceX could make billions of dollars by fixing those issues.

Musk said it will take about 400 satellites to establish "minor" internet coverage and 800 satellites for "moderate" or "significant operational" coverage. The immediate major goal is to deploy nearly 1,600 satellites about 273 miles (440 kilometers) high.

So what would offering internet with significantly less lag to anyone in the world affect?

  • Signficantly more coverage to rural areas, at speeds faster than most broadband networks

  • Almost 40% less lag in East/West connections (North/South connections will take more time)

  • Decreased global transaction speeds affecting billions in transactions every day

  • Internet on transport vessels like ships, airplanes, and trains.

And that's just the start. As with most things related to the internet, it's difficult to predict exactly the impact this sort of new age network might have. 

Full breakdown of the Starlink mission here.

Sean Steigerwald