SpaceX plans Starlink ground station in Baxley

While various other companies that could provide affordable broadband internet in underserved rural areas fight over costs and using each other’s property, SpaceX is steadily building its Starlink internet network in low Earth orbit. The company plans to finance its space program by offering reasonably priced broadband internet globally by deploying 4,409 internet beaming Starlink satellites, and back during the summer it outlined this plan in a letter sent to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). As of earlier September, about 708 Starlink satellites are already in low Earth orbit.

“It looks like a UFO on a stick,” said Elon Musk, who owns the company, in describing the bulb-like antenna which is less than two yards in diameter and is a ground station.

In July, the FCC granted temporary authority to test some of these Starlink ground stations, and Baxley is reported to be one of the rural sites selected. The other five include Hitterdal, Minnesota - Tionesta, California - Robertsdale, Alabama – Butte/Conrad, Montana - Colburn, Idaho - Inman, Kansas - Vernon, Utah - Punta Gorda, Florida - Merrillan, Wisconsin - Boca Chica beach, Brownsville/Mcgregor, Texas. Eventually, SpaceX could have hundreds of stations all over the USA and eventually the world. The stations are set up to be the link between user terminals and the data center for the Starlink network. If Starlink works out as described by SpaceX founder Elon Musk, the aerospace company may bring in tens of billions of dollars per year by getting people online with high-speed, low-lag internet from almost anywhere on the planet’s surface.

Already, SpaceX employees are testing the Starlink network by using user terminals and Wi-Fi routers.

Senior Engineer Kate Tice says that they show download speeds greater than 100 megabits per second, which is low enough to play the fastest online video games. The download speeds are quick enough to stream multiple High-Density movies at the same time. At the beginning, Spacex will launch about 1600 Starlink satellites to about 340 miles above the earth. It has already sent 62 experimental and 480 operational satellites into space. It is trying to send up about 60 every two weeks.

Gwynne Shotwell, the president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, said in May that the company would “roll out service in a more public way” after launching more than 800 spacecraft; it plans to do so by fall 2020. The key is that the satellites will orbit about 64 times closer than a typical internet satellite and could be able to provide internet that doesn’t lag.

If SpaceX is able to prove its case to the FCC, billions in federal subsidies could be coming its way to provide internet to areas with poor or nonexistent broadband service. SpaceX plans to have its internet services available to the public by fall of 2021 or early the next year. (Info gathered from the SpaceX website).