SpaceX to Provide Internet Connectivity from Space in 2020

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. reliable / rɪˈlaɪ ə bəl / (adj) – describing something or someone that can be trusted

    Our products are always reliable because we use only high-quality materials.

  2. constellation / ˌkɒn stəˈleɪ ʃən / (n) – a group of similar or related objects

    Every Christmas, trees in our neighborhood are covered in constellations of colorful lights.

  3. transmit / trænsˈmɪt / (v) – to pass something on from one point to another

    Radio signals are hard to transmit during thunderstorms.

  4. up in the air / ʌp ɪn ði ɛər / (idiom) – not yet finalized

    The details of the company event are still up in the air, so we’re not yet sure where it’s going to be held.

  5. take off / teɪk ɔf / (phrasal) – to be successful

    His business took off because of good marketing.


Read the text below.

Space transportation services company SpaceX plans to provide Internet from space.

SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell announced the initiative during a press conference in Washington, DC. Shotwell said that the company will be able to roll out the service in 2020. The initiative is SpaceX’s response to the increasing demand for fast, reliable, and affordable Internet connection worldwide.

SpaceX is going to provide Internet service through Starlink, the company’s constellation of satellites. This network of satellites needs to be positioned at low orbit above Earth so that it can transmit broadband signals to the surface below. The company already launched a batch of 60 satellites to space in May. According to Shotwell, six to eight launches are needed to ensure consistent level of quality service to customers.

The company has already secured a license from the Federal Communications Commission to launch 12,000 satellites into orbit. In addition to this, SpaceX asked permission from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) last October to launch 30,000 additional satellites for Starlink.

Aside from launching satellites into orbit, the company still needs to develop the devices that customers will use to receive Internet signals from space. The company is considering offering the service directly to customers, but a third-party service provider may be necessary in other countries.

Despite pending approvals and other matters that are still up in the air, SpaceX is confident that the project will take off. To prove that the technology would work, company CEO Elon Musk tested it and successfully sent a tweet via Starlink.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Would you avail of SpaceX’s Internet service if it becomes available in your country? Why or why not?
• Based on what was discussed in the article, what do you think are the possible disadvantages of the Starlink initiative? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Do you think that many service providers will expand to space in the future? Why or why not?
• Aside from Internet connection, what other space-related services would you like to see in the future (e.g. space tourism, food in space)? Explain.