Elon Musk tweeted from space this morning—with help from his company SpaceX’s Starlink satellites.
In a tweet sent early Tuesday morning, prolific Twitter user, Tesla CEO, and SpaceX founder Musk sent a tweet to his nearly 29 million followers saying it was being sent “through space via Starlink satellite.”
“Whoa, it worked!!” Musk posted to Twitter after sending the first message via Starlink.
It was no Marconi moment, but Musk’s tweet was a small yet important step for SpaceX. The company has been working on Starlink for several years in hopes of deploying a space-based internet service on Earth.
Starlink is a constellation internet service with satellites flying around Earth’s orbit and beaming internet access down to the ground. In areas where populations more dense, Starlink envisions deploying more Starlink satellites to ensure it can deliver reliable internet access. In more rural areas, fewer Starlink satellites will be needed to beam internet to the ground. Ultimately, SpaceX hopes that Starlink can also provide internet access to areas around the world where the web is still inaccessible.
To achieve its mission, SpaceX has some work to do. Since 2015, when the company first announced the project, SpaceX said it would deploy 12,000 Starlink satellites into space. Earlier this year, SpaceX asked for permission from the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations organization that manages international communication technologies, to deploy an additional 30,000 satellites, bringing the total to 42,000.
In May, SpaceX deployed the first 62 satellites to space. The company plans to launch 60 more satellites every two weeks starting in November. SpaceX plans to reach its goal of 12,000 satellites by November 2027. The company hasn’t said when it will have its full 42,000 satellites in space.
Still, some big questions remain. SpaceX has said that Starlink will be a low-cost option for accessing the internet, but hasn’t said exactly how much its service will cost. The company is also promising high-speed internet of up to 1 gigabit per second, or about the top speed offered by cable and fiber companies today. But whether that will be the exception instead of the rule, like in today’s internet access, remains to be seen.
For now, though, Starlink is in its infancy. And it won’t be available to consumers for years.
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