Starlink

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Starlink: The Future of Internet Infrastructure

Figure 1. Starlink Logo.[1]

Starlink is a satellite internet constellation by SpaceX that has the potential to provide high-speed internet coverage all over the globe. The constellation is comprised of thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit, working in combination with ground transceivers to allow geographically underserved areas to gain access to high-speed internet. [2]

Starlink is aimed at a global market, with particular interest in remote areas where terrestrial alternatives are limited [3] Satellite internet will provide major relief to people in remote areas with no internet access due to their distance from wired networks. Connecting many ignored and remote communities provides an alternative to connecting via an authoritarian-controlled 5G provider, such as China’s Huawei. [4] By bringing political transparency to citizens of highly censored countries, satellite internet can replace expensive government-owned microwave towers and optical fiber-based geographically grounded internet monopolies, democratizing space communications [4] By connecting billions of people to satellite internet, Starlink has the potential to provide significant economic benefit to global wealth and equity. Starlink plans to offer global broadband, providing extremely low-latency communications that are important to key economic sectors, such as finance. [5]

Figure 2. Two Starlink Satellites in Orbit.[6]

Artificial satellite constellations such as Starlink allow for more accurate observation, timing, navigation, and communication than what Earth-based instruments can provide.[3] As satellite traffic density goes up, precision navigation and maneuvering capabilities will become mandatory requirements for all low-Earth orbit satellites.[4] Other necessities may involve including transponders that more accurately identify satellite location, and traffic collision avoidance systems where satellites communicate with other assets that may be on a collision course and take evasive action on its own so avoid such an impact.[4] As human capability to get to space becomes cheaper, the desire for, and the implementation of more standardized global rules for debris deorbit and salvage are expected.

The high volume of launches of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle allows greater opportunities and lower costs to conduct in-space astronomy. The large number of launches to deploy and occasionally replenish Starlink offers astronomers rideshare opportunities to send assets into space on a more frequent, and affordable basis. Such assets include instruments to help fine-tune ground telescopes, known as artificial laser guide-stars, and more mission-specific space and earth observation satellites.[4] More assets in space would also promote a technique which uses laser cross-links to enable many small telescopes on several satellites to act as one giant telescope, a practice known as 'interformetry'.[4] Finally, as Starlink is a driver for Starship (the next generation space launch vehicle capable of launching hundreds of Starlink satellites at once), there could be further decreases in the cost of reaching space and the construction of Starlink satellite constellations.[4]

Privatization of Space Technology

The commercial use of space is the provision of goods and services using equipment sent into outer space.[7] This phenomenon, also known as Space Economy, is accelerating cross-sector innovation processes by combining the most advanced space and digital technologies to develop a broad range of space-based services.[8] The Space industry can be broken up into three primary sectors. The first, is launch providers, these are the companies that are contracted to place items into space. The second is the Satellite market, which encompasses the assets that are actually in space. The third is ground support systems, which is the infrastructure on the ground that is used to maintain and control all other assets in space, or assets that are on their way to space.

The use of space technologies and the data they collect, combined with advancing digital technologies is generating a multitude of business opportunities that include the development of new products and services, and the creation of new business models. Examples of commercial usages of space include satellite navigation, satellite imagery, and satellite internet.[9] The fundamental components of everyday technologies, such as smartphones, have also benefited from the development of miniaturizing technologies for use in both governmental, and commercial satellites.[10]

Figure 3. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley seen sitting inside the Dragon Crew Capsule.[11]

An integral part of the Space Economy is the growing practice of contracting private companies to manufacture and launch satellites. Historically, cost has been a barrier to entry for private companies operating in this new domain. These costs are less important for government organizations because their demand is typically inelastic. As the cost barriers have lowered over time, the use of private actors for space launches has grown. The global investment in all space sectors is projected to be $2.5 trillion in the next decade, with $12 billion being invested in start-up space companies in 2020.[12]

The entry of new space companies is financed by many different groups of investors who see potential in a few different sectors in space commerce.[13] Some commercial ventures have long-term plans to exploit natural resources outside Earth in practices such as asteroid mining. Space tourism is also an area of future growth, as launch providers such as Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic strive to reduce the costs and risks of human spaceflight.[14]

A crucial factor to boost the private growth of newborn enterprises is government support, and for this reason, the ESA and NASA are implementing new space policies that are more open to cooperation with new private industries.[13] For NASA, evidence of this increased use of private corporations can be found in programs such 'Commercial Resupply Services"[15] and the "Commercial Crew Program."[16] These ventures have been largely successful in reducing overall costs from NASA, as it has allowed them to move past the historical "Cost Plus" pricing structure, which has been heavily scrutinized for causing projects to go over-budget, and missing deadlines.[17] By allowing for more open, and competitive contracts, NASA is energizing competition within the industry to gain more flexibility to choose suppliers and technologies that provide cost reduction in future space missions.[13]

The participation of private companies provides new and better developed space products and missions in a much cheaper and faster way. In 2012, Space X became the first private company to dock a spacecraft at the International Space Station.[18] This event demonstrated the capability of the private sector to perform activities previously accomplished only by publicly funded space agencies.

Technological Advancements

The Catalyst for Change: Lowering Launch Costs

Starlink satellites are deployed in "batches" of sixty satellites via reusable rockets, reducing costs of deployment.[19] Through this method, Starlink has now placed over 800 operational satellites into orbit.[20] These satellites are launched by the Falcon 9 rocket at a cost of $2,720 per kilogram. These deployment costs of the Falcon 9 are significantly less than what is offered by competitors.[21]

Figure 4. Batch of 60 Starlink satellites stacked inside the fairing of the Falcon 9.[22]

This emerging technology of satellite constellations is only made possible by the successful use of reusable rockets, which have dramatically reduced the cost of satellite deployment. Something that once cost hundreds of millions, has been reduced to less than sixty million dollars. The reason costing is so important is due to the fact that in order for Starlink to work to its full potential, it requires tens of thousands of satellites to be placed in orbit. As only sixty can be deployed at one time, several launches are required to make Starlink fully operational. The primary rocket making all of this possible is known as the Falcon 9, which has a cost per kilogram of $2,720, compared to the $10,000 to $14,000 that is offered by their main competitors.[19]

Scale of Satellite Constellations

This rise of private companies operating in space is evident when examining the stats on the number of satellites in orbit. In 1957, the first satellite entered orbit, having been launched from the Soviet Union, and triggering the space race. From that point in 1957 to the present day, there have been around 8,900 satellites put into space. Of those, 5,000 remain orbital, and roughly 3,000 are still operational.[23] Starlink, just since 2019, has put over 800 satellites into orbit, with existing plans for up to 12,000 and the existing approval for up to 42,000.[24] These are the numbers required to make a satellite constellation for internet services work, and remain competitive to more traditional forms of internet infrastructure.

Challenges with the Current Infrastructure

Coverage Challenges

With the current internet infrastructure, one primary challenge is coverage. The fact that infrastructure is expensive has led to it only being financially feasible for more populated areas. This leaves people in more remote areas left behind.[25] This means people on islands, in forests, and in rural farming areas are left with little to no internet. This has massive ramifications, especially for less economically developed countries as high-speed internet is an accelerant for economic growth.

Additionally, with intercontinental cables, steel and Kevlar need to be used in order to protect them from natural elements and human activity. Despite this, there may still be interruptions in service due to physical damage to these underwater lines. In 2012, internet access to Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Juba was cut off for multiple weeks because a ship had accidently dragged their anchor across one of these cables.[26]

Misaligned Financial Incentives

The other issue with the current infrastructure is that it does not have the financial incentives in place to provide access to places that are not either wealthy, or densely populated. Installing an internet tower is expensive, and with a limited range, it means companies avoid going into more remote regions, or poorer areas, a problem that ultimately adds to the growing global wealth disparity, as those nations with access to reliable, high speed internet have a much greater advantage to those who do not.[27]

Modern Day Satellite Internet

There are already existing internet satellites, currently proving service around the globe. One such example is the series of Echostar satellites operated by Hughesnet, which has seven bus sized satellites in orbit servicing customers across the world.[28] These satellites are differentiated from Starlink for a variety of reasons. First is the size. One Echostar satellite is roughly 7,000 kilograms, compared to a Starlink satellite which weighs 227 kilograms.[29]
Figure 5. Animation of an Echostar satellite 35,000 kilometers above the Earth's surface.[30]

The next differentiating factor is orbital altitude. The Starlink network will orbit between 400 to 1,000 kilometers above the Earth's surface, compared to the 35,000 kilometers of altitude that Echostar operates at.[31] This has a few consequences. First, being so close, it enables faster and stronger internet connections to the associated ground stations. The big challenge holding back traditional internet satellite providers was the fact that they do not have very strong connections, especially when compared to the existing ground based infrastructure that exists. On the downside for Starlink, this lower orbit does open up their satellites to a higher risk of collision, which would could be catastrophic not only for the impact it would have on crashed satellites, but such an accident could ultimately set off a chain reaction that could put everything in orbit at risk, and would make future space exploration and having in-orbit assets near impossible.

A Future with Starlink

Evolution Towards Starlink

The Precursors to Starlink

It has taken years for internet satellite constellations to evolve into the form they are in today. First, very few companies in the 2000's offered services similar to what Hughesnet and Echostar offer today.[32] Access to the internet from these sources was always incredibly slow and didn’t have any practical applications unless you were in an extremely remote area and had the money to afford it.[33] It saw some success, but nowhere near any sort of mass adoption due to the large limitations on speed and capacity. Then over the past decade, there has been a growing towards internet constellation of small satellites put into practice by a few different companies, one prominent player being OneWeb.[34] The increased interest in these constellations was triggered by the to growth of including secondary payloads on launches, sharing the costs between multiple customers, rather than only one.[35] OneWeb managed to get about 70 of their planned 650 satellites into orbit, before going bankrupt in the past year.[34][36] They were fighting an uphill battle to try and get these satellites into orbit at cost effective prices, and as a results of depending on ridesharing rockets in order to afford launch cost, they were typically delegated to not being mission priority, reducing their access to the orbits, inclinations and altitudes they needed for their constellation. OneWeb ultimately blamed COVID-19 as the final challenge that led to them filing for bankruptcy earlier this year.[37] In most recent news, OneWeb was bought by the UK government, with their intentions with the network remaining unclear.[38]

The Start of Starlink

Learning the lessons of previous attempts by companies, Starlink waited until the price of launches had dropped dramatically due to the success of re-usable rockets. They had a design that could fit inside the fairing of the Falcon 9 rocket as efficiently as possible, so they can fit sixty into a single launch, driving down the cost per launch as low as possible.
Figure 7. Infamous photo of Elon Musk at the 'opening party' of SpaceX.[39]
In terms of notable points in it’s creation, the first is in 2002, when SpaceX was founded with the aim of reducing the cost of reaching space by embracing the concept of re-useable rockets. This acted as the catalyst that would go on to make a concept such as Starlink truly feasible. Next, was the first test of Starlink prototypes which took place in 2018 where two Starlink satellite were deployed into orbit for the first time. This was followed by the first fully dedicated Starlink mission on May 24th, 2019, where sixty satellites were deployed and began their testing.[40] This was followed by some modifications to the design, including the use of a special visor which helped reduce the Satellite's interference with ground based telescopes.[41] This launch occurred on August 7th, 2020, and since then there have been no major modifications to the Satellite and instead, SpaceX has been focused on getting a sufficient number into Orbit to begin offering service to select parts of the globe. This has lead to Starlink launches occurring roughly once every two weeks, and nearly 800 satellites begin deployed.

Starlink's Value

Starlink is currently a private company, and therefore has no obligations to release that financial data. However based on external analysis, as seen in Figure 6,

Figure 6. Projected Revenues from Satellite Internet.[42]
there is far more potential for growth that exists in Starlink that does not exist with spaceX. For Starlink, once the network is in place, the cost of adding more customers is virtually non-existent, which means there exists a lot more potential for operating income and revenue. On the other hand, SpaceX’s launch revenue experiences a fairly linear growth. This simply shows that it is far easier to scale in internet subscribers, as opposed to rocket launches.

Market size will also play a significant part in determining the long term value of Starlink. With the current infrastructure, a UN study showed that the majority of the world does not currently have access to the internet.[43] According to this report, 54.1% of the world's population lacked reliable access to high speed internet.[43] This lack of internet access is most prominent on the African continent where penetration rates are roughly around 20%.[43] This means there are billions who could stand to benefits from, and be customers for a space based internet satellite infrastructure such as what is being offered by Starlink. As the internet is a major generator of wealth, it has accelerated economies that have access to it, and left behind those who do not. This unequal field when it comes to internet access only serves to drastically increase the wealth disparity that exists in the world.[44]

As stated before, a big part of this is the cost of setting of infrastructure specific to an area. To justify installing a cell tower, the standard for internet service providers is roughly 15,000 people living with range of the tower, and the range can vary from just a few kilometers to closer to a hundred depending on the terrain.[45] So the Internet Service Providers only have incentive to place towers where they have the numbers of people necessary to justify it.

Starlink's ultimate value can be broken down into a simple equation, that being how many subscribers Starlink can gain, and what will charge per month. Starlink announced earlier this year that service will be offered at $99 per month, with a ground station worth $499 being required to begin service.[46] This service will provide data speeds of 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s and latency from 20ms to 40ms.

The real driver for value in Starlink is the number of people who may sign up for this service. As stated earlier, there are billions of people in underserved areas. Even penetrating a small percentage of this number would mean the generation of billions of dollars. In addition, if Starlink can be the first to market, which currently appears extremely likely, Starlink could be the go to internet provided for anyone not living in a major city. This is because of the chance that restrictions may be placed on future satellite internet constellations in an attempt to prevent the overcrowding of low earth orbit.[47] This is why some estimates of Starlink’s worth being placed in the tens to hundreds of billions of dollars.[48]

The Benefits of Starlink

With thousands of satellites orbiting the world every 90 minutes, the Starlink constellation would be able to grant internet access to anyone on the globe, regardless of how remote they may be.
Figure 8. Successful deployment of 60 Starlink satellites as visible from the upper stage of a Falcon 9 rocket.[49]

This has significant ramifications for places such as northern Canada, the US heartland, island nations, sparsely populated poorer nations, and areas previously underserved by existing services.[50]

The next major benefit of Starlink is its reliability. Compared to the 7 or 8 satellites of previous satellite internet providers, having thousands means many can go offline, and the network would still be able to operate relatively efficiently.[51]

The autonomous collision avoidance capabilities serve to help mitigate the risk involved with potential high velocity collisions while in space.[52] Preventative measures like these are becoming increasingly common on satellites and there is an increased concern about space debris and the consequences of some high velocity collisions.[53] Starlink satellites are equipped with systems that can track debris, and use data from NASA’s space debris database to automatically avoid collisions and adjust its positioning to changing circumstances.

Finally, Starlink is equipped with orbit debris mitigation. This means that even in the scenario where a satellite goes offline and contact is lost, their low orbit means that within a few years, the impacted Satellite will fall back to earth and burn up.[54] This is compared to satellites placed tens of thousands of kilometers away from earth, which will take tens of thousands of years to re-enter earth's atmosphere and burn up if they ever go offline.

Risks and Challenges

Several obstacles need to be solved regarding technological improvements, space law, government policies and financial and economic issues, in order to ensure the continuity of the private space enterprise.

Apart from the financial risk, private sectors must face hindering factors such as the USA export restrictions, lack of details for private missions in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, instability of government financial support, and global market conditions.[55] A potential impediment for the privatization of space exploration is the uncertainty of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which bans the stationing of militaries and weapons of mass destruction in outer space, along with other laws governing space exploration.[56]

Astronomers have argued that thousands of mega-satellite constellations in low Earth orbit will impede scientific observations of celestial bodies, which are dependent on very dark skies.[57] Long chains of low-orbit artificial satellites from Starlink have been criticized for obstructing Earth-based astronomic instruments due to the satellites’ light pollution.[57] Since Starlink satellites are most visible after the first launch, the train of satellites passing by in quick succession will repeat after each launch.

However, Starlink does create urgency for some key innovations in space traffic control and astronomical satellites, along with creating satellite coatings (nicknamed ‘DarkSat’) that are less optically reflective at dusk to interfere less in astronomy.[58]

Starlink's Competitive Advantage

Starlink's main competitive advantage is its vertical integration with SpaceX. While other companies that have tried building satellite networks have gone bankrupt, SpaceX can subsidize the cost of Starlink since it is a rocket company first and a satellite constellation manufacturer second. SpaceX as a company has dedicated significant resources to ensure that an efficient method for launching multiple satellites is established. With the proprietary technology and resources of a Rocket Company, Starlink is able to substantially reduce its cost. The cost reduction creates a significant gap between Starlink and its competitors. Starlink effectively uses this cost to invest in research and development giving them availability to launch multiple satellites in creating a broader and more reliable network compared to the few satellites launched by its competitors. [59]

Figure 12. Animation of a OneWeb satellite in orbit.[60]

As Starlink's main business function is space shipment, it has the ability to charge other companies that want to launch objects into space and fill the remainder with its own internet provider satellites. Starlink can also take up other satellites for other companies and charge them for that – while also taking up some of their own. By subsidizing the cost of a satellite launch by providing cargo space, the company utilizes another revenue model which the competitors cannot count on. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have varying revenue model, through television, mobile services, etc. Starlink's competitors that only seek to provide a satellite based Internet solution does not have a huge market to capture revenue. By establishing varying revenue sources Starlink allows itself to be diverse and expand more than an ISP. Sole ISP have a limited earning and growth potential, by adding revenue sectors, Starlink has the advantage of expanding its services to more consumers than traditional ISP. [61]

Their primary SpaceX business is very cash flow positive. They can use money earned from that business to fund Starlink as satellite constellations are expensive. Other companies such as OneWeb need to raise capital from investors in order to build theirs (OneWeb raised 3.4 billion dollars to fund their ambitions and still managed to go bankrupt as they have no source of revenue until they can create their satellite constellation and start charging people for internet.)[62] OneWeb as a direct competition faces a lot of challenges as mentioned earlier in competing with Starlink. However, current land-based network providers also have a significant stake in Starlink's success. While the land based ISP's can often miss a market segment in remote areas, Starlink can capture that market segment and create an ecosystem that allows for more consumers on land-based networks to view Starlink as a one-stop solution to their Internet needs. While Starlink is currently establishing itself as a reliable network and deploying more satellites, once a mature network is established the speed test results are comparable to land based networks and the companies can soon compete in terms of pricing and reliability of networks.

Overall, by using their own rockets, Starlink and by extension SpaceX is able to offset portions of the research and development costs of those rockets to create different iterations. The company can establish various revenue sources that its competitors lack due to vertical integration with the rocket company SpaceX. Leveraging long terms costs in maintenance, deployments, and development the company takes a significant step ahead of the competition. While other companies struggle with consistent funding in the area, Starlink with their positive cash flow have been able to establish themselves as a resource rich company. [63]

Starlink in Use

Figure 12. Washington state emergency officials are using SpaceX satellites (white, center) to provide internet access in Malden, Wash., after wildfires took out most of the small town in Eastern Washington.[64]

Combating Wildfires

Starlink satellites with the current limited network are operational, one prime example of the satellites in action was during the recent wildfires across Washington and the West coast in Summer 2020. With cell towers, and copper lines destroyed in the fire, many local residents did not have any communication whatsoever. The Starlink satellite network was provided to the Washington State Emergency responders aiding with communication, and day to day activities of local businesses that were impacted by the loss of a stable network connection. [65] The Washington state military used Starlink user terminals to bring access to remote areas. These user terminals are devices that are linked to satellites and positioned on ground. This was a success and the state was able to provide rural coverage impacted by the wildfire. This not only helped with keeping families in touch, but features like VOIP and wireless calling enabled “zero day communication” due to which families were able to file claims, evacuate safely, and schools were allowed to be in session.[66]

Deployment with the US Air Force

Satellite network of over 800 current in-orbit satellites has allowed Starlink to be of use to the US Air Force, with a 28 million contract signed in 2018, the network was actively experimented with how a spaced-based internet connection would enhance Multi-Domain operations. [67] The network was able to successfully transfer encrypted information between the five different domains.[68] With a reliable and no-loss use in network for troops and communication the US military has a substantial stake in the Starlink Service. These terminals were hooked on the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft and were able to assess the whole network’s performance by a flyby Including military vehicles on the go. [69] [70]

Beta Testing with Starlink Customers

Figure 11. Starlink ground station installed on a customer's roof.[71]

Starlink has conducted numerous tests on the proposed speed and network reliability, with network deployment in the military sector. The company also has provided its network access to Beta testers to conduct real life Field tests. Starlink provided field test results of speeds reaching 100 Mbps and upload in the ballpark of 40 Mbps which is comparable to copper connections in most North American areas. It is also better than the conventional satellite internet, and is definitely beyond the needs of the rural access Starlink envisions.[72] Third-party independent study has allowed users to use testmy.net to report similar results with the range of a decreased 10Mbps with the testing environment. Although the satellites are still in Beta and are only fraction to the original deployment number, the FCC’s authorization to operate more satellites due to the promising results has allowed the company to expand its network to military connections and home-based solutions throughout the world and in the US alone with remote areas. [73]

Starlink and Geopolitics

The History of Space and Politics

Politics has always played a pivotal in advancing space technologies. It is debatable that without the space race and the intense rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union, humans may never have set foot on the moon.
Figure 9. Soviet propoganda poster promoting the national effort to reach the moon.[74]
[75] Evidence of this can be seen the fact that since the United States landed on the moon, no other country, organization or company has since set foot on the surface.[76] During the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, the main motivation for advancing space technologies was not from a desire for advancing science, or enterprises pursuing financial opportunities, it was instead countries attempting to advance their missile technology, deploy military assets and launch spy satellites.[77] As a result, there has been a historical precedent that have prevented countries from freely sharing information related to their own technologies. A prime example of this is seen in China's ban from the International Space Station.[78] The United States cites concerns over national security as the primary reason for the ban. This is also why companies like SpaceX are extremely limited in their hiring of employees from outside of the United States.[79]

Cause for Cooperation

Despite resistance to cooperation due to national security concerns, the very nature of operating in space requires nations or companies to have access to international assets. This is because the typical orbital time for assets in space being only ninety minutes, which means orbiting around the entire globe, regardless of which countries the asset may pass over. In order to maintain reliable communication with these satellites, a direct line of sight is required. To compensate for the curvature of the earth, this means either maintaining, or having access to ground stations around the globe. The International Space Station operates with multiple ground stations around the world in order to maintain constant contact.[80]

Who Owns Space?

Officially, no nation can own any terrestrial bodies in space as per the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.[81] However, entities are entitled to owning the assets they have in space. This treaty was signed by 129 nations, but questions have been raised about how it may actually be enforced.[82] The generally accepted start of space beings at 100 kilometers above the earth's surface. This is known as the Karmen Line, and can be cited in legal cases when differentiating where a nation's airspace ends, and where internationally accessible space begins.[83]

What This Means for Starlink

For Starlink, there has been backlash from other nation's accepting the legitimacy of Starlink's right to placing such a large number of assets into earth's orbit. While technically, Starlink has received approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), this FCC has no jurisdiction beyond the United States, so beyond filing a complaint with the UN, there is nearly no effective, or significant way for other entities or nations to pursue legal actions against the companies deploying constellations such as SpaceX is currently doing.[84]

The Implications of Starship for Starlink

Figure 10. Starship SN8 attempting a landing after a high altitude test flight on December 9th, 2020.[85]

On December 9th, 2020, Starship SN8 took to the skies in the most significant test flight of its development, successfully reaching an altitude of 15 kilometers. This flight has shown that this new rocket, capable of being fully reusable and lifting over 100 tons into orbit could become operational within a the next couple years. This means it could aid in the construction of the Starlink network, furthering driving down to costs to less than 10% of the already significantly low costs that SpaceX has achieved with the Falcon 9.[86]

Conclusion

The current internet infrastructure is one that has been mostly unchanged for hundreds of years, dating back to the first transoceanic cables laid down for telegraphs in the 1800s.[87] The dependency on the this outdated system has led to an insufficient current infrastructure that currently leaves billions of people disconnected and cut off from one of the most revolutionary technologies ever created. Being cut off from the internet has served to contribute to global wealth inequality, and limit access to those living in either densely populated areas, or more wealthy nations.[27]

The catalyst for such a change in infrastructure has only been made possible by the reduction of cost of reaching space, which was the result of SpaceX proving the feasibility of reusable rockets.[21]

Starlink has the potential to not only provide great service to customers, but also reduce the state of internet inequality in the world by providing access to people and areas that previously did not have the means to afford such service. This practice, this will mean connecting potentially billions of people with access to the internet for the first time, bringing with it all the benefits to education, healthcare and e-commerce that are associated with knowledge sharing, and increased connectivity.

Such an achievement will not be without the associated risks. As previously explained the risk of satellite collision will remain an ever present danger, capable of not only destroying all assets in space, but also cutting off the potential for human space exploration. In addition, there has been amble pushback from the astronomer community as the reflectivity of Starlink satellites has interfered with their ability to make observations of space from ground based system. Starlink has deployed system such as visors, and autonomous collision avoidance system to help mitigate these risks and challenges.[88]

With the successful deployment of over 800 Starlink satellites, the rollout of beta testing, and the continued decrease in launch costs, Starlink is well positioned to revolutionize the world's internet infrastructure, and be a major player in the future of the multi-billion dollar space industry.



Authors

Katherine Zhang Aadhar Gaur Justin Richter
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada

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