SpaceX has just opened up its public beta test of its global internet service, Starlink. The company is now saying that it’s taking preorders now.
People that are interested in Starlink can now enter a service address on the Starlink website. Pre-orders only cost $99. There are, however, some areas that show a preorder message that say SpaceX is ‘targeting coverage in your area in mid to late 2021.’ This is better news for some areas that say 2022.
People living in the United States, the UK, and Canada will be the first to have access to the service.
Starlink’s website literature explains that preorders are ‘fully refundable.’ The company does, however, mention in fine print that ‘placing a deposit does not guarantee service.’ The company continues by saying that ‘orders may take 6 months or more to fulfill’. This timeframe, of course, depends on where users are located.
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SpaceX had started the Starlink public beta program in October of last year. Service costs only $99 a month for a 1 Gbit, low-latency connection. There is, however, a $499 upfront cost for the Starlink kit. The kit includes a high-end Wi-Fi router and the hardware required to receive the Starlink signal. This part is known as the user terminal or dish.
What is Starlink?
Starlink is a SpaceX project aimed to create a global internet network with tens of thousands of satellites. These in-formation satellites, also known as a constellation, are designed to deliver a high-speed (1 Gbps) internet connection to users located anywhere on Earth.
Two years ago, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) approved SpaceX to launch almost 12,000 (11,943) satellites. SpaceX is wanting to have at least 4,400 satellites in low-earth orbit by 2024. So far, the company has launched over 1,000 Starlink satellites.
SpaceX said in a filing with the FCC just last week that the company has ‘over 10,000 [Starlink] users in the United States and abroad’. This figure was accrued over a three month period.
Musk Seems OK With a Starlink IPO
SpaceX’s CEO, Elon Musk, repeated some of his previous statements about the company planning to spin off Starlink as a separate company and take it public. He even set a goal for when Starlink will be ready for an IPO.
SpaceX needs to pass through a deep chasm of negative cash flow over the next year or so to make Starlink financially viable. Every new satellite constellation in history has gone bankrupt. We hope to be the first that does not.Elon Musk via Twitter
And then in another tweet:
Once we can predict cash flow reasonably well, Starlink will IPO.Elon Musk vis Twitter
Musk statements lend support to something that SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in early 2020. At the time, she said ‘Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public.’
Anyone who knows Elon Musk knows that SpaceX will definitely overcome any and all technological challenges when it comes to building and distributing its global internet service. SpaceX is rightfully optimistic regarding the potential demand and the revenue it brings.
Way back in 2019, Elon told reporters that Starlink could bring in revenue of $30 billion a year. To put that into some perspective, that is around 10 times what it expects for the annual revenue from its core rocket launch business.