SpaceX has formed a constellation of satellites for the Starlink public beta test
SpaceX's Starlink broadband has been available in limited beta for the past few months. SpaceX has now launched enough satellites to launch a public beta test. It will be available to customers in the northern US and southern Canada.
So far, the last launched satellites are only moving towards target positions in orbit. SpaceX has yet to announce the exact start date for the public test.
As SpaceX CEO Elon Musk noted, roll-out of broadband testing in other countries will begin after the company receives regulatory approval.
The SpaceX constellation already has over 700 satellites. The last launch took place on October 6, 60 satellites were put into orbit.
It could take months for the last 60 satellites to reach their target positions, according to specialist Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. It tracks the orbits of Starlink satellites and publishes updates on its website.
Typically SpaceX divides each batch of 60 satellites into three groups of 20. The first group will reach the target altitude in about 45 days, the second and third in about 90 and 135 days, McDowell predicts. Thus, all 60 satellites can be in their target positions until around February 18, 2021.
Musk said in April that the public beta of Starlink would begin in the fall of 2020. It is possible that this will happen in November, and after that testing will expand.
Starlink is currently in limited beta testing in rural Washington. Speed tests conducted by users in August showed download speeds ranging from 11 Mbps to 60 Mbps with delays ranging from 20 ms to 94 ms. SpaceX saidthat during the testing of the system, the engineers recorded a connection speed of 100 Mbps and higher. The magnitude of the delay was not specified then.
The Starlink connection has already helped Washington State rescuers using it in wildfire-affected areas.