Elon Musk’s space internet gives Native American tribe access to high-speed broadband for first time
A remote Native American tribe is among the first users of Elon Musk’s Starlink space internet project after it connected to SpaceX’s constellation of satellites.
The Hoh Tribe in Washington State said Starlink’s high-speed broadband enabled remote learning and telehealth appointments during the coronavirus pandemic for the first time.
“We’re very remote. The last eight years I felt like we’ve been paddling up river with a spoon and almost getting nowhere with getting internet to the reservation,” said Melvinjohn Ashue, vice chairman of the Hoh Tribe.
“It seemed like out of nowhere, SpaceX came up and just catapulted us into the 21st century.”
There are currently around 800 Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit, offering internet connectivity to northern areas of the US and Canada. SpaceX eventually plans to launch tens of thousands more satellites to provide “near global coverage of the populated world by 2021”.
The Hoh Tribe were introduced to Starlink through the Washington State Department of Commerce, which sits within the current reach of the Starlink network.
It is one of several early testers of Starlink , with emergency responders in Washington State also recently using the network to set up a WiFi hotspot for residents of Malden after 80 per cent of the town was destroyed by wildfires.
The Hoh Tribe revealed that internet speeds prior to Starlink ranged from between 0.3 and 0.7 megabits per second (Mbps) – a long way off the 100Mbps advertised by SpaceX.
What a difference high-speed internet can make! Our children can participate in remote learning, residents can access #healthcare. We felt like we’d been paddling up-river with a spoon on this. @SpaceX Starlink made it happen overnight. Thanks @WAStateCommerce for introduction.
— Hoh Tribe (@TribeHoh) October 7, 2020
Responding to a tweet from the
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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.
“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
SDA Director Derek Tournear said SpaceX “came in with an extremely credible proposal” that leverages the Starlink assembly line
WASHINGTON — The Space Development Agency awarded $193.5 million to L3Harris and $149 million to SpaceX to build four satellites each to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles.
The contracts announced Oct. 5 are for the first eight satellites for a potentially much larger constellation of sensor satellites the Space Development Agency is calling Tracking Layer Tranche 0.
The awards mark the first time the U.S. military has announced an order of satellites from SpaceX, which opened a factory in Seattle several years ago to produce thousands of small satellites for its Starlink broadband megaconstellation.
Both SpaceX and L3Harris are required to deliver their satellites by September 2022, Space Development Agency Director Derek Tournear told SpaceNews.
Each satellite will have a “wide field of view” overhead persistent infrared (OPIR) sensor capable of detecting and tracking advanced missile threats from low Earth orbit. The satellites will also be equipped with optical crosslinks to pass data to relay satellites.
Tournear said the winners were selected based on technical merit and ability to deliver satellites quickly.
SpaceX’s missile-tracking satellite will be based on its Starlink bus with an OPIR sensor acquired from another supplier, Tournear said. He declined to name the payload provider and SpaceX has not disclosed subcontractors for the project.
L3Harris, according to Tournear, bid a complete satellite with the bus and payload produced in-house.
The optical crosslinks in the Tracking Layer must be compatible with the optical links used in the Transport Layer satellites that Lockheed Martin and York Space Systems are building for the Space Development Agency under contracts awarded in August.
The Transport Layer is the backbone that moves data collected by the sensors to anywhere in the
SAN FRANCISCO – Tracking and avoiding the growing debris field in low Earth orbit was clearly on the minds of speakers on the first day of the Satellite Innovation 2020 conference.
“Today, unfortunately, there is a lot of debris up there,” said Tony Gingiss, OneWeb Satellites CEO. “We have to be able to track it and avoid it. But fundamentally, we also have to change the landscape in terms of … the responsibilities of the parties operating up there to actually make sure that we’re not creating more debris.”
As OneWeb, SpaceX and Amazon begin as a group to send tens of thousands of satellites into broadband constellations, industry and government officials acknowledge the growing risk of collisions.
The Federal Communications Commission is considering changing its rules for orbital debris mitigation, which have been in force since 2004.
“It’s pretty clear that the large constellation operators recognize that they’re going to have to take some extra steps and extra care because of the level of activity they are engaged in,” said Karl Kensinger, FCC Satellite Division deputy chief.
To mitigate the debris problem, companies can design rockets and satellites to avoid creating debris. Satellite operators also need to keep tabs on satellites that maneuver frequently plus 250,000 pieces of small debris in low Earth orbit, said Dan Ceperley, LeoLabs founder and CEO. Earlier this year, LeoLabs unveiled a collision-avoidance service.
Ultimately, government agencies and companies will need to clean up debris like massive rocket upper stages that pose the most significant risk because a single hit or breakup could “create thousands or tens of thousands of new pieces of debris,” Ceperley said. “It’s the sort of thing where in an instant, you could see the amount of debris in low Earth orbit go up by a factor of 25 or