SpaceX to offer on-the-go internet service for vehicles

SpaceX building with a launch pad behind it

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has filed a request with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to connect its Starlink satellite internet service to moving vehicles, including aircraft, ships, large trucks, and RVs.

Starlink is a satellite internet constellation consisting of thousands of small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO). As of 2021, SpaceX has launched 1,035 Starlink satellites into space and plans to launch up to 60 more per Falcon 9 flight.

These tiny satellites, which are in beta phase, work in tandem with ground transceivers to deliver high-speed internet access to consumers worldwide.

SpaceX is now working on an antenna that will “expand the range of broadband capabilities available to moving vehicles throughout the United States and to moving vessels and aircraft worldwide,” said David Goldman, SpaceX's director of satellite policy.

Goldman continued: "The volume of traffic flowing over the world's networks has exploded. No longer are users willing to forego connectivity while on the move, whether driving a truck across the country, moving a freighter from Europe to a US port, or while on a domestic or international flight."

SpaceX has also requested the FCC issue it a “blanket license” to commence its operations. FCC's terms don’t require applicants to submit a precise or maximum number of deployed user terminals, which is why SpaceX didn’t pin down the number of mobile terminals it plans to build.

Musk tweeted that the new antennas won’t connect Tesla vehicles to Starlink, citing that the “terminal is much too big.”

“This is for aircraft, ships, large trucks & RVs,” posted Musk.

SpaceX hasn't revealed details on the mobile Starlink terminals’ design, but Goldman says the terminals would be “electrically identical” to existing terminals, and users can mount them conveniently on vehicles, vessels, and aircraft.

Starlink’s current consumer setup kits cost $499 and users will also pay a $99 monthly service fee. The data speeds vary from 50Mbps to 150Mbps, but Musk says the data speeds will double to 300Mbps by the end of 2021.