“Most communications satellites are in a geostationary orbit, high enough that they are in the same part of the sky 24/7. Ground stations just have to point their dishes at the satellite to patch into a system that delivers services ranging from live-streaming TV to internet to smartphone communications.
Starlink is attempting a different approach. The system consists of a constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit, currently numbering just over 2,000, envisioned to eventually number in the tens of thousands. A customer would acquire a terminal that would consist of an antenna, wifi and cables. The antenna can be deployed anywhere exposed to the sky, such as a rooftop.
SpaceX advertises the service as a “high speed, low latency” internet service that will eventually encompass the entire globe, including rural areas where access to the internet has been spotty or even nonexistent. Through Starlink, a customer gets access to services such as online gaming, remote education and virtual doctor visits.
Starlink has not been without controversy. Astronomers complain that the satellite constellation constitutes light pollution that interferes with their observations. Others suggest that so many satellites in low-Earth orbit constitutes a space debris hazard. SpaceX claims that they are working with astronomers to minimize light pollution. The company also says that Starlink Satellites are designed to mitigate against the possibility of becoming space debris.
Starlink played a crucial role in the recovery of Tonga, a Polynesian kingdom of 169 islands in the South Pacific, when a volcano erupted in January, sending a plume 36 miles into the air and causing a devastating tsunami. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk provided 50 VSAT terminals that reconnected some of the outlying inhabited islands to the internet pending the restoration of undersea cables that had been destroyed by the disaster.
Starlink is facing its greatest test in Ukraine. According to Forbes, shortly after the Russians invaded the country, the Ukraine government requested that Musk provide that country with Starlink terminals, a request that Musk quickly obliged. While Ukraine’s regular internet service is being disrupted due to Russian hacking and destruction of infrastructure, Starlink is providing that country with an alternate way to access the world.” The Hill
Comment: Starlink and Musk will obviously be a target for Russian IO and its agents of influence. pl