Advanced Television

Starlink to save on geostationary costs

July 13, 2022

SpaceX’s live coverage of its Starlink launches and its landings at sea make spectacular viewing, but the images come at a significant cost. SpaceX’s Starlink contracts with geostationary operators, which provided the return path to SpaceX’s HQ, are hefty deals.

“At over $165,000 per month for 25 Mb/s download by 25 Mb/s upload of pre-paid bandwidth, satellite internet was one of the top operating costs for SpaceX’s recovery fleet. And because the vehicle can generate 100s of GBs of data, SpaceX regularly paid costly overage fees,” says SpaceX.

SpaceX continues: “Under an experimental licence, SpaceX recovery teams had the opportunity to test and develop Starlink’s maritime terminals prior to market release with dramatic results. With a max upload speed of 40Mb/s on each installation, Starlink has enabled the transfer of 100s of GB of data within hours of the rocket landing. This was not possible with the VSAT system. Starlink also reduced latency to just 50ms, allowing operators to respond faster for even greater control over their fleet.”

SpaceX says that using other commercial satellites is costing it typically $165,0000 a month for connectivity. That sum, by using its own Starlink fleet, has dropped to $50,000 (a reduction of some 70 per cent).

SpaceX operates a fleet of 10 ocean going vessels designed to safely and reliably recover rockets and spacecraft that take both humans and cargo to orbit.

“The mission critical nature of these operations places a significant demand on offshore network solutions to deliver data on the spot, regardless of operating location or weather conditions,” states SpaceX.

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