SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space exploration company, is trying to get regulatory approval in the United States to use its Starlink satellites to beam internet to trucks, shipping boats and aircraft.
On March 5th, SpaceX made a request with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to connect Starlink to the vehicles, which could significantly expand its business.
The filing asked for “a blanket license for the operation of earth stations in motion that will communicate with its non−geostationary orbit satellite system,” which Musk has clarified means aircraft, ships, large trucks, and RVs, but not cars as the company’s terminals are too big.
“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 U.S. port or while on a domestic or international flight,” the filing reads.
The filing also indicates that SpaceX is now focusing on mobile connectivity “to the benefit of drivers, ship operators, and air travellers in the United States and abroad.” Additionally, it says, “these services will enhance the security of mobile platforms and allow operators and passengers to access services that enable increased productivity.”
Not connecting Tesla cars to Starlink, as our terminal is much too big. This is for aircraft, ships, large trucks & RVs.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 8, 2021
The FCC filing doesn’t include any more details about the antenna designs for vehicles. That said, it outlines that they “are electrically identical to its previously authorized consumer user terminals but have mountings that allow them to be installed on vehicles, vessels and aircraft.”
Currently, SpaceX’s Starlink has more than 1,000 satellites in space, with at least 10,000 users via an invite-only beta program that Starlink uses to provide an internet connection to rural homes in the U.S. and Canada.
Last month SpaceX opened Starlink pre-orders on a first-come, first-served basis in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.