Elon Musk’s Starlink begins tests with US Air Force on sending broadband to planes | Science | News


The US Air Force is looking to update its encrypted internet services and has identified Mr Musk’s Starlink as the service it needs. Starlink is SpaceX’s satellite broadband project that will eventually see a total of 30,000 satellites orbiting the Earth to deliver internet to every corner of the globe. Now, the US Air Force has tested the internet services aboard a plane.

The aviation arm of the Armed Forces received “high bandwidth” to the cockpit of a plane which was mid-air, SpaceX President and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell.

Ms Shotwell told Reuters: “We are delivering high bandwidth into the cockpit of Air Force planes. Right now we’re just testing the capability and figuring out how to make it work.”

The US Air Force program which will see high speed internet beamed to the cockpit of planes is called ‘Global Lightning’.

Just last week, Ms Shotwell said she expected to test Starlink with “a number” of additional military aircraft types.

She added: “We’re talking to the Army about Starlink and Starship.”

The Starlink service looks to blanket Earth in a mesh of high-speed, low-latency and affordable internet access.

Even partial deployment of Starlink would help those back on Earth, providing more rural areas of the planet the opportunity to access the internet.

As well as providing high-speed internet, the satellites will also be well situated for Earth observation.

READ MORE: SpaceX’s Starlink will be a ‘forerunner’ for Mars internet

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) said in a statement: “The scientific concerns are twofold. Firstly, the surfaces of these satellites are often made of highly reflective metal, and reflections from the Sun in the hours after sunset and before sunrise make them appear as slow-moving dots in the night sky.

“Although most of these reflections may be so faint that they are hard to pick out with the naked eye, they can be detrimental to the sensitive capabilities of large ground-based astronomical telescopes, including the extreme wide-angle survey telescopes currently under construction.

“Secondly, despite notable efforts to avoid interfering with radio astronomy frequencies, aggregate radio signals emitted from the satellite constellations can still threaten astronomical observations at radio wavelengths.

“Recent advances in radio astronomy, such as producing the first image of a black hole or understanding more about the formation of planetary systems, were only possible through concerted efforts in safeguarding the radio sky from interference.”



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