SpaceX’s Starlink service is rolling out to private jets

20 Oct 2022

Image: Starlink

Starlink plans to launch the service for aircraft next year, with Elon Musk claiming it will feel like ‘accessing internet at home’.

SpaceX is expanding its Starlink satellite internet to the aviation industry, offering speeds of 350Mbps and unlimited data for aircraft customers.

Starlink said the service will let all passengers on an aircraft access “streaming-capable internet at the same time”. It added that passengers will be able to engage in video calls, online gaming, virtual private networks and “other high data rate activities” with latency as low as 20ms.

Starlink is offering a “low-profile Aero Terminal” that features an electronically steered phased array antenna. The company said the service can be easily installed and combines well with other routine maintenance checks.

The service is set to launch next year, with a cost of $150,000 to install the hardware and monthly fees from $12,500 to $25,000.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter that the service will feel like “accessing internet at home”.

“We even did a Starlink video call on one airplane aloft to Starlink on another, far away, airplane aloft and it worked perfectly with no lag,” he tweeted.

Starlink hit a big win earlier this year when the US Federal Communications Commission gave SpaceX authorisation to provide internet service to vehicles in motion, such as cars, trucks, boats and aircraft. Previously, Starlink only advertised the service for residential, business and RV users.

Starlink is creating a network of low-orbit satellites that has the potential to bring internet to users anywhere in the world, regardless of local infrastructure. In Ireland, the system has been trialled in rural areas of west Cork and Kerry.

The company said its satellite constellation has global coverage, which would give aircraft passengers the ability to connect regardless of the flight’s location.

“Passengers can engage in activities previously not functional in flight,” the company said on its website.

Elsewhere, SpaceX has been offering Starlink internet to Ukraine as it deals with the ongoing invasion by Russia. While Musk tweeted earlier this week that Starlink is “still losing money” from the move, Politico reported that the US Pentagon is considering paying for the service to Ukraine.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic