June 20, 2024


Sapiens Digital

Photos of SpaceX’s Consumer Satellite Internet Service Emerge Online

2 min read

(Credit: Starlink)

Information about SpaceX’s satellite internet service, Starlink, is starting to emerge, including official images of the dish terminals customers will place over their homes. 

Users on Reddit poked around the official Starlink website, and found pages about the beta program for satellite broadband service, which is set to begin later this year. They cover the signup process for the beta program and show off images of the terminal itself. As you can see, the device is basically a small satellite dish, or what one user described as a “UFO on a stick.”  

When the images began circulating on Twitter, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to his own account to comment. “Starlink terminal has motors to self-orient for optimal view angle. No expert installer required. Just plug in and give it a clear view of the sky,” Musk wrote. He also noted the terminal depicted is a prototype that’ll be slightly modified in the production model.  

Reddit user “thesbros” said they were able to gain access to the hidden web pages by manipulating the API requests to the official Starlink website into thinking they had officially been invited to test the beta program. 

The pages go on to describe the beta program, and how SpaceX will use it to collect feedback on the satellite internet service. “Starlink Beta will begin in the Northern United States and lower Canada, with those living in rural and/or remote communities in the Washington state area,” one of the pages state. “Access to the Starlink Beta program will be driven by the user’s location as well as the number of users in nearby areas. All beta testers must have a clear view of the northern sky to participate.”

the dish terminal for starlink(Credit: Starlink)

People recruited into the public trial will receive the dish terminal, a Wi-Fi router, and a power supply. SpaceX only asks beta users to pay $2 a month to test out the Starlink billing system. However, the company is going to require users to sign a non-disclosure agreement, barring them from discussing their Starlink experience in public. After the beta is completed, users will need to return the dish equipment.

With about 500 satellites in orbit, SpaceX is initially limiting Starlink to users in the northern US and lower Canada. But it’s targeting a global rollout next year as it launches hundreds and then thousands more satellites.

Once online, Starlink promises to offer download speeds up to 1Gbps with a latency ranging between 25 to 35 milliseconds, on par with ground-based broadband services. 

SpaceX is already recruiting users to its beta program. Last month, the company created an email newsletter that’ll notify applicable users when they can sign up for the public trial. The private beta is set to begin this summer followed by the public beta.

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