SpaceX fail to land booster rocket during Starlink mission
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The South African tech mogul is on course to supply the globe with satellite-based Internet and Brexit Britain will play a role in achieving this goal. Elon Musk’s internet company has been granted a license to construct a Starlink ground station on the Isle of Man. Ground stations are a key element of Starlink’s infrastructure as they facilitate links between internet data centres and SpaceX’s growing constellation of satellites.
The Isle of Man station will be the company’s third ground station built in or around the UK.
Starlink ground stations have already been built in Cornwall and Buckinghamshire, paving the way for full Internet coverage of Britain.
The ground stations are conceived of multiple satellite dishes that exchange data with Starlink satellites in space, by tapping into existing fibre-optic infrastructure.
Starlink is an off-shoot of Mr Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX, which has recently secured a lucrative deal to land astronauts on the Moon for NASA.
According to the Department for Enterprise (DfE), the Starlink infrastructure is “already being commissioned on the island”.
The DfE also noted it is “excellent to see this project moving to the next stage”.
But Starlink is not the only company vying to use the Isle of Man as a base of operations in the region.
There are presently 11 licensed operators on the island, including Manx Telecom, Opti-Fi and BlueWave Communications.
The Isle of Man, which is not part of the UK, is a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea.
Sue Strang of the Communications and Utilities Regulatory Authority told the BBC: “Starlink will potentially add more choice and switching options for consumers in the already competitive broadband market.”
To date, SpaceX has launched more than 1,700 Starlink satellites into orbit using its iconic Falcon 9 rocket.
The company aims to put at launch up to 42,000 of these internet-beaming satellites to build a so-called mega constellation in low-Earth orbit (LEO).
Earlier this year Mr Musk said the bold plan would likely need up to £21.5billion ($30billion) in investment to materialise.
Starlink internet is already accessible in parts of the US, Canada, UK, Germany and New Zealand.
But as the Starlink constellation grows and more ground stations are built, it is expected to reach every corner of the globe with high-speed, low-latency broadband.
But the company faces tough competition from the UK’s own OneWeb communications company.
The satellite operator, which is headquartered in London, had filed for bankruptcy in March 2020 after failing to secure investment into its satellite network.
However, OneWeb was propped up by the Government and the Indian company Bharti Global.
OneWeb is now well on its way to launch its OneWeb constellation of 650 LEO satellites, with more than 200 already zipping around the planet.
The British company Inmarsat is also looking to go global with its recently unveiled project, ORCHESTRA.
The “first of its kind” network of satellites will boost mobile coverage by combining the benefits of 5G with LEO and geosynchronous orbit (GEO) satellites.
Rajeev Suri, CEO of Inmarsat, called this plane the “future of connectivity”.
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