SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet constellation – the only one that uses thousands of small satellites placed in low Earth orbit (LEO) has also made it on its rival firm’s founder, Jeff Bezos. Bezos, whose Amazon is gearing up to launch satellites for the Kuiper satellite internet constellation, is using Starlink for internet connectivity on his yacht, according to images shared on social media. His choice is unsurprising since in just a handful of years after being made available for public use, Starlink is a regular feature on airplanes, ships and other vehicles due to its ability to ubiquitously beam the Internet down to Earth regardless of the location of the user.
Jeff Bezos Installs Multiple Starlink Dishes On His Yacht As Kuiper Waits To Launch Satellites
While SpaceX’s Starlink isn’t the first company to have developed a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite internet constellation, it is the first that has managed to become a commercial success. Launching satellites before the Falcon 9 rocket disrupted the industry was a costly and time-consuming endeavor. Firms that hoped to target this market, including one backed by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, often had to earmark a substantial amount of capital to launch just a few satellites into space.
On the other hand, SpaceX has managed to build a satellite internet constellation of thousands of satellites by successfully alleviating the low cost and rapid re-usability of its Falcon 9 rocket. Most of a Falcon 9’s launch manifest for a calendar year is filled with Starlink launches, and SpaceX has ended up reusing multiple boosters more than a dozen times to reduce costs as much as possible.
At the same time, the Starlink dishes that form the backbone of its user experience have also seen multiple revisions. These have now made it on Jeff Bezos’s yacht as the Amazon billionaire waits for his Kuiper satellite internet constellation to come online.
Bezos’s own satellite internet service, the one being developed by Amazon subsidiary Kuiper, uses a similar architecture as Starlink. Kuiper’s satellites are also situated in LEO, and its user dish also connects to them to provide connectivity through an attached router. Internet traffic is set to servers from the satellites through ground stations, and one advantage that Kuiper enjoys over Starlink is the rocket that it will use to launch the satellites.
While SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is a medium lift rocket, and one that has seen the number of satellites per launch reduce over time as the spacecraft get bigger to offer features like direct to cell connectivity, Kuiper will rely on a mix of launched from Bezos’s rocket company Blue Origin and the United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket. Both are larger than the Falcon 9, and therefore they offer Kuiper the ability to rapidly scale up its internet constellation.
SpaceX’s future, on the other hand, rests solely on Starship. The multi billion dollar super heavy lift rocket that Musk’s company is developing in Texas is the largest of its kind in the world. Aimed to eventually conduct interplanetary missions to Mars, Starship will also allow SpaceX to build a customized second stage for launching Starlink spacecraft. Once Starship is operational, the firm aims to launch tens of thousands of LEO satellites, and build an internet constellation capable of not only supporting internet coverage on Earth but also on Mars.
Tyler Fields is your internet guru, delving into the latest trends, developments, and issues shaping the online world. With a focus on internet culture, cybersecurity, and emerging technologies, Tyler keeps readers informed about the dynamic landscape of the internet and its impact on our digital lives.