Elon Musk, CEO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), has revealed that Starlink satellite internet service will soon be able to transmit data at nearly the speed of light.Musk posted this information on the social networking platform Twitter, where he shared details of the new Starlink satellites, which SpaceX will launch in the next few months.
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These satellites will be equipped with lasers, a vital feature that eliminates the need for Starlink to use ground stations to transmit data to Internet servers. According to the official, the new satellite will be launched soon and will be used early next year. Musk said Starlink will be able to provide internet coverage to the North Pole through the new satellite.
The current Starlink network architecture consists of three components. They are user stations or antennas, orbiting satellites, and ground stations in the area where the test device is located. The way the network works is to transmit user data to satellites, and the satellites forward it to the ground station to connect to the Internet. Then, this data is sent back to the satellite, and then sent back to the user by the satellite.
However, SpaceX planned to remove part of Starlink’s reliance on ground stations more than a year ago. The company aims to achieve this goal by equipping its satellites with lasers that will be able to transmit data between satellites. This, in turn, will reduce the time of communication of the satellite with the ground station, and will also increase the coverage area, because the data will travel across all continents without touching the Earth.
SpaceX will launch new satellites with laser communication capabilities in the next few months. Musk said that the new satellite will almost halve the transmission time of Starlink data, because the laser will allow data to be transmitted at very high speeds. The laser link eases restrictions on the ground station, so data can be transmitted from Sydney to London through space, is 40% faster than optical fiber transmission and has a shorter path.
Although optical fibers are generally considered to transmit data at the speed of light, the truth is that this speed is different from the speed at which light travels in a vacuum. This speed is affected by the refractive index, which is the ratio of the speed of light to the speed of a substance. The refractive index of a high-quality fiber-optic cable is approximately 1.44, so the light speed of a fiber-optic cable is 129,166 miles per second.
Starlink uses the new satellite to transmit data with a laser, which can be about 40% faster than the speed of light in optical fibers, meaning SpaceX’s Internet service can transmit data at 180,832 miles per hour. Given that the speed of light in a vacuum is 186,282 miles per second, Starlink’s vacuum data transmission speed is approximately 97% of the speed of light.
SpaceX quickly developed its plans to deploy these satellites. The link between satellites was first mentioned in the Starlink second generation satellite programme. There will be 30,000 of these satellites, which will include several upgrades over the satellites currently in orbit. Their data capacity will be three times that of first-generation Starlink satellites, and will reduce delay (the time required for a data packet to and from users) to 50 milliseconds, providing better coverage of polar regions like the Arctic and Alaska and lowering manufacturing costs.
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