The sky, ultimate space for freedom of information?
On September 23, Elon Musk obtained from the US government an exemption from sanctions against Iran, which will allow him to make Starlink, his satellite telecommunications system, available there. It nourishes the hope of the population to remain informed despite repression and censorship. Just as it did in Ukraine, where 20,000 satellite dishes have been installed since the Russian invasion last February.
But the objective is much larger: to offer an Internet connection to all Earthlings, wherever they are on the planet. For this, Elon Musk launched a constellation of thousands of small satellites of 250 kg each, circulating in a circular orbit 550 kilometers from the earth’s surface. This technology in low orbit, called “LEO”, provides a connection comparable to that of 4G or ADSL. Starlink ensures at least 100 megabits per second. Above all, the proximity to the Earth reduces latency, ie the time required for the data to make a round trip between the satellite and the user. An advantage over large satellites, or “GEO”, placed in geostationary orbit at 36,000 kilometers from the Earth.
A subsidiary of SpaceX, the world leader in space missions, the Starlink company has another key advantage: it operates in an integrated manner. While its historical competitors outsource the production and launch of satellites and distribute their bandwidth via operators, Starlink controls everything: the manufacture of satellites, their launch, provided by SpaceX, direct distribution to the general public. “This system allows Starlink to have the best launch prices on the market”, observes a competitor.
Ahead of the competition