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Elon Musk’s Starlink wants to connect vehicles to internet

SpaceX chief Elon Musk wants to help truckers, pilots and mariners get online while they’re on the move.

The rocket-building company is seeking permission to connect ships, aircraft, large trucks and RVs to its Starlink satellite internet service, records show.

SpaceX asked the Federal Communications Commission last week for a “blanket license” to outfit large vehicles with the kind of gear that connects homes and offices to the internet though its network of more than 1,100 satellites orbiting the Earth.

The license would allow SpaceX to expand its growing internet business while promoting competition in the market for “in-motion broadband services,” director of satellite policy David Goldman said in a Friday letter to the FCC.

“No longer are users willing to forego connectivity while on the move, whether driving a truck across the country, moving a freighter from Europe to a US port, or while on a domestic or international flight,” Goldman wrote.

“These services will enhance the security of mobile platforms and allow operators and passengers to access services that enable increased productivity,” he added.

60 of the Starlink Internet communication satellites of Elon Musk's SpaceX private spaceflight company seen in the night sky
Starlink Internet communication satellites of Elon Musk’s SpaceX private spaceflight company seen in the night sky.
Yuri Smityuk/TASS

But Musk clarified that SpaceX was not planning to beam internet to passenger cars like those made by his other company, Tesla.

“Not connecting Tesla cars to Starlink, as our terminal is much too big,” the world’s second-richest man said on Twitter Monday. “This is for aircraft, ships, large trucks & RVs.”

SpaceX’s filing with the FCC offered few details about what the mobile Starlink terminals would look like. Goldman told regulators that they would be “electrically identical” to the gear already authorized for consumer use but with “mountings that allow them to be installed on vehicles, vessels and aircraft.”

Starlink’s consumer setup kits — which cost $499 in addition to the $99 monthly service fee — come with a satellite dish, a WiFi router, a power supply, cables and a mounting tripod, according to the service’s website.

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk (R) gestures as he arrives on the red carpet for the Axel Springer Awards ceremony
SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk gestures as he arrives on the red carpet for the Axel Springer Awards ceremony.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

SpaceX would dispatch “qualified installers” to make sure the mobile gear is properly attached to the vehicles that sign up for the service, according to Goldman.

SpaceX said last month that more than 10,000 people in the US and abroad were using Starlink internet. Musk has said the service will be spun out as a public company “once we can predict cash flow reasonably well.”




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