SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said his space internet project is ready for public use following the latest launch of Starlink satellites.
SpaceX delivered a further 60 satellites into low-Earth orbit this week, bringing the total number close to 800.
The private space firm hopes to eventually launch tens of thousands of Starlink satellites to create a constellation capable of beaming high-speed broadband down to 99 per cent of the inhabited world.
“Once these satellites reach their target position, we will be able to roll out a fairly wide public beta in northern US and hopefully southern Canada,” Musk tweeted following the launch.
“Other countries to follow as soon as we receive regulatory approval.”
The Starlink network has already been tested on a limited scale, providing internet to emergency responders in the US following recent wildfires.
The Washington Emergency Management division was able to set up a Starlink-powered WiFi hotspot for residents in Malden last month after 80 per cent of the town was destroyed by fire.
Musk said at the time that SpaceX was prioritising emergency services and locations with no internet connectivity at all.
In April, the billionaire entrepreneur said that 800 satellites would be enough for “significant” global coverage, though speeds will be nowhere near the 100 megabits per second speed promised by SpaceX until the network grows.
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“With performance that far surpasses that of traditional satellite internet, and a global network unbounded by ground infrastructure limitations, Starlink will deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable,” Starlink’s website states.
Areas that will fall within the public beta test include the Detroit metropolitan area and Ann Arbor in Michigan, according to Musk.
Users will be able to get signal for the network using a personal antenna device that will serve as a WiFi hotspot.
The network has faced criticism from some astronomers, who claim that the long trains of satellites disrupt observations and could hinder scientific progress.
SpaceX has made efforts to reduce the impact of the satellites, however a recent report by the Satellite Constellations 1 (Satcon1) workshop warned that “no combination of mitigations can completely avoid the impacts of satellite trails on the science programs of the coming generation.”
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