- Elon Musk wants to offer Starlink internet to moving vehicles such as ships, planes, and trucks.
- Musk’s SpaceX on Friday asked the FCC if it could expand Starlink to the automotive industry.
- SpaceX wants to beam internet from its satellites to vehicles via mounted antennas.
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SpaceX wants to connect moving vehicles, including planes, ships, and large trucks, to its Starlink satellite internet service, according to a request the company filed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday.
Currently, Starlink provides rural and underserved communities with broadband through its 1,122 low-Earth orbit satellites. Starlink kits cost $US499 ($648) upfront, plus $US99 ($129) a month for a subscription. Now, the space firm plans to use antennas that can mount to vehicles, vessels, and aircraft, and are “electrically identical” to existing user terminals, the filing said.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Monday said in a tweet that the antennas would not connect Tesla cars to Starlink because the terminals are “much too big.”
“This is for aircraft, ships, large trucks & RVs,” he said.
In Friday’s request, SpaceX director of satellite policy David Goldman said the antenna “would serve the public interest” and “allow operators and passengers to access services that enable increased productivity.”
“The volume of traffic flowing over the world’s networks has exploded,” said Goldman. “No longer are users willing to forego connectivity while on the move.”
Last year, SpaceX asked the FCC for authorization to test Starlink on ships that it uses to recover rockets that have landed in the ocean, CNBC reported. But Friday’s letter is for a “blanket license” for operations.
Since the launch of Starlink’s “Better Than Nothing” beta in October, it has gained more than 10,000 users and operates in at least six countries. In early February, SpaceX began offering $US99 ($129) preorders of Starlink in Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and areas of the US where Starlink isn’t yet live.
The most recent Starlink satellite launch took place on Thursday, when SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket delivered another 60 satellites into orbit, adding to its ever-expanding constellation. The company aims to have up to 42,000 satellites in orbit by mid-2027.