It appears that internet connectivity in commercial airlines is about to get a serious boost. As noted by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in a recent post on Twitter, talks are now ongoing with commercial airlines about the possibility of utilizing Starlink for in-flight internet connectivity. Musk was quite optimistic about the idea, stating that Starlink should provide “low latency, ~half-gigabit” connectivity in the air.
SpaceX is a company whose mission is to make humans into a multi-planetary species. Yet Starlink, which is designed to bring internet connectivity to even the most remote areas of the globe, stands as one of the private space firm’s most ambitious projects. Starlink aims to set up a constellation of satellites around the planet, which should pave the way for global internet connectivity.
So far, SpaceX has launched 1,740 Starlink satellites, and the program currently has about 100,000 users in 14 countries. Starlink is still in public beta, however, with the service being priced at a rather premium $99 per month, on top of a $499 fee for the actual satellite kit. That being said, Elon Musk has noted in September that Starlink should come out of its beta phase in October 2021.
Interestingly enough, this is not the first time that the idea of using Starlink for aircraft has been mentioned by SpaceX executives. Back in June, SpaceX Vice President Jonathan Hofeller also noted that the private space company is “in talks with several airlines” about adding Starlink in-flight WiFi. Hofeller remarked that SpaceX has already done some demonstrations of the technology, and it is looking to finalize the product in the near future.
“We have our own aviation product in development … we’ve already done some demonstrations to date and [are] looking to get that product finalized to be put on aircraft in the very near future,” Hofeller said.
The SpaceX executive added that Starlink’s “global mesh” of satellites could provide faster internet to airline passengers. “Starlink provides a global mesh (so that) airlines are flying underneath that global mesh have connectivity anywhere they go. Passengers and customers want a great experience that (geosynchronous satellite internet) systems simply cannot provide,” Hofeller added.