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SpaceX requests FCC permission to expand Starlink service to trucks, ships, & planes

Capitalism in space: SpaceX has submitted a request to the FCC to expand its Starlink customer base by providing the service not only to rural areas but to large moving vehicles, such as trucks, ships, & planes.

In its application to the FCC, filed on Friday, SpaceX said expanding Starlink availability to moving vehicles throughout the U.S. and to moving vessels and aircraft worldwide would serve the public interest. “The urgency to provide broadband service to unserved and underserved areas has never been clearer,” David Goldman, SpaceX’s director of satellite policy, said in the filing.

Goldman said SpaceX’s “Earth Stations in Motion,” or ESIMs, would be “electrically identical” versions of the $499 antenna systems that are already being sold to beta customers. He suggested that they’d be counted among the million end-user stations that have already been authorized by the FCC.

…SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet that Starlink’s ESIM terminals would be “much too big” to mount on cars — such as the electric cars that are made by Tesla, the other company that Musk heads — but would be suitable for large trucks and RVs.

The article at the link notes in detail how this request poses a serious competitive threat to two of SpaceX’s biggest rivals, Klymeta and Amazon’s Kuiper constellation. This is true, but it is so mostly because SpaceX has already launched more than a thousand satellites in its constellation, and is simply taking advantage of its advanced position to undercut its rivals.

For example, though Klymeta might be using already orbiting satellites put up by different companies, it is also charging twice what SpaceX wants to charge for its antenna system, making Starlink a more attractive product. Amazon meanwhile appears years away from launching its first satellite. It might have a better design, but such things are worthless if they aren’t built and operational.

These companies have no one to blame but themselves if Starlink grabs their hope-for market share. And the FCC should not block SpaceX just to protect them.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

4 comments

  • Col Beausabre

    Locomotives already have a forest of antenae on their roof, including GPS, data link (to monitor the unit’s mechanical condition), voice, Positive Train Control, etc. See Burlington Northern Santa Fe example

    https://www.railwayage.com/cs/ptc/bnsf-ptc-were-ready-but-youre-not/

    (and to think when my dad worked his way through college by goin’ railroadin’, the crews communicated via whistles and waving flags or lanterns. with the dispatcher runnin’ the railroad via a train sheet and telegraph key)

    Since they are mobile and can operate in pretty remote areas, such as the mountains and deserts of the West, put down the railroads as possible customers to reduce their line side infrastructure.

  • Jeff Wright

    I miss the old telegraph poles and all the wires like I miss the chatter of newsrooms. My Dad worked for the L and N. I think some lines were still in use in the early 7o’s…hydrogen making nickel iron batteries in railroads look to make a comeback as battolysers.

  • Jeff Wright

    Oh, they should have kept LORAN for ships

  • mrsizer

    And the FCC should not block SpaceX just to protect them.
    which means that they will probably do so. Add “and to spite Elon” to the mix and it seems almost guaranteed.

    I’d offer it to the rest of the world and let the US (and anyone else who doesn’t approve) live without it. That can even be justified as “progressive”: Allow the third world (can we still say that?) to leapfrog over all the intermediate steps, much as has happened with cell phones vs land lines.

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