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.

The first Starlink user test results

Capitalism in space: The first Starlink test results by actual users are finally coming out, and they suggest that the constellation will deliver very fast internet speeds indeed.

The article however reveals this tidbit that up until now SpaceX has managed to keep nicely obscured:

While Starlink will provide the kind of speeds and latency that should work for many services and games, Musk said the company simply won’t have the capacity to compete in major metro markets—a caveat often left unmentioned in Starlink coverage. “It’s not good for high-density situations,” Musk said. “We’ll have some small number of customers in LA. But we can’t do a lot of customers in LA because the bandwidth per cell is simply not high enough.”

As a result, Starlink won’t do much for the estimated 83 million Americans stuck under a broadband monopoly (usually Comcast), or the millions more whose only options are a duopoly; usually either the cable company or a sluggish DSL line from the local phone company.

In other words, the service will likely not be made available in dense urban areas, at least not initially.

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  • geoffc

    To be fair, he has been upfront and clear about this all along.

    That is why initial markets are northern latitudes. Not just because of orbital slots make it easier to cover with fewer satellites, but rather that the population is sparse, connectivity is expensive, and they are easy wins.

    Though they claim to have 700K users signed up to request service, be interesting to see how many are supportable, considering cell size.

  • Andrew_W

    It’ll be available, but at a higher price than is charged by providers in the major metro areas, so in those areas there’ll be lower rates of up-take. Generally rural broadband is the most expensive, and the Starlink system will be optimized for those customers.

  • TL

    I guess I’ve always assumed that the market for Starlink was rural based. Very tough to compete against a landline connection where the infrastructure is already there. That said there is a huge market potential just in the US for rural areas which simply can’t get a fast and reliable link currently.

  • Fred

    It’s not very difficult to imagine that the base antenna’s can be designed to ALSO work with terrestrial cellular networks. Terminals can be designed to fallback to the cell networks when conditions require it (like high traffic, or poor sat connection). This is much like what your phone does with wifi vs. cell.

    Cellular based internet works quite well in high/medium population areas, and it’s weakness is more rural areas.

    Seamlessly combine starlink and cell based internet and you have a service that can scale well in most markets. (The few exceptions would be very dense high rise areas)

  • wayne

    If you go to the Starlink website, you can sign up to receive notification of service availability at your address.

  • mpthompson

    My interest in Starlink if very selfish. I hope to someday be a California ex-pat and I like the idea that high-speed Internet access (which my job depends upon) would not be a limitation if the promises of Starlink comes to pass for rural locations. I assume there are many others like me who are eager for the freedom Starlink can bring.

  • Edward

    The article’s author, Karl Bode, seems disappointed that he is among the 83 million that will continue to be “stuck under a broadband monopoly

    That still leaves tens of millions of Americans and millions of businesses eligible to sign up for the service. Worldwide, the potential customer base is even better. It looks to me that Starlink is likely to be a wildly successful enterprise.

    I begin to wonder whether Starlink and OneWeb will have enough capacity to satisfy the world market for this service.

  • pzatchok

    I want it just fast enough to make 25 mbps download and 5 mbps upload.
    I don’t need anything faster.

    I will just download anything I want to watch.

    And ease of mobility. I want the antenna on top of my camper.

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