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SpaceX's Starlink

By Raymond Dai April 7, 2022

Cindy Zhao Art

Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, people across the globe have been rushing to aid Ukrainians and their fight for freedom. One of the country’s most well-known international supporters is Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. According to The Verge, in February, Musk used Starlink—SpaceX’s endeavor to launch a mega-constellation of over 42,000 network satellites into orbit—to help reconnect Ukrainians to the web after a series of outages. This event demonstrates that in a world where internet connectivity is more critical than ever before, Starlink is a hopeful prospect in achieving the 21st-century goal of providing fast and affordable internet access to communities around the world.


in a world where internet connectivity is more critical than ever before, Starlink is a hopeful prospect in achieving ... fast and affordable internet access to communities around the world.

Starlink has launched 895 satellites since 2019, completing its beta testing phase in October 2021—which added over 90,000 customers to its service. Business Insider explains that some Starlink users have experienced internet speeds of 175 megabits per second with the technology, even faster than advertised.


While this success greatly boosts the promise of Starlink, many fear that the project will contribute to a growing space junk crisis because it involves launching so many satellites. As Business Insider finds, around 2.5% of Starlink’s spacecrafts have failed performance tests, with some disintegrating into space debris—which is nearly impossible to clean up.


Business Insider finds around 2.5% of Starlink’s spacecrafts have failed performance tests

Although this failure rate seems low, the sheer size of the Starlink mega-constellation will likely cause the space debris to build up in small increments, creating a mass of over 1,000 inoperative school desk-sized satellites circling the planet. This can be dangerous to other spacecrafts and even astronauts, as bits of this space junk can break off into space and travel faster than bullets. Fortunately, SpaceX claims that its satellites will naturally exit their orbits and burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere if the propulsion systems fail.


[Starlink's] projected benefits are enormous and far outweigh the risks

Furthermore, while Starlink may have initial flaws, its projected benefits are enormous and far outweigh the risks. As PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), a network of accounting firms, articulates, increasing internet connectivity to a global scale could lift 500 million people out of poverty while adding $6.7 trillion to the global economic output.


Since it was introduced to the country, Starlink has become the most-downloaded app in Ukraine, per Forbes. Trends such as these serve as evidence that Starlink is already capable of fulfilling its purpose, and the technology’s coverage will only strengthen and expand over time. Despite its current shortcomings, Starlink has incredible potential to introduce the power of the internet throughout the world and provide new economic opportunities for all. As long as possible issues with space debris can be thoroughly addressed and managed while prices remain reasonable, the future of Starlink is undoubtedly bright.


 

About the Contributors

Raymond Dai

Opinions Editor


Raymond Dai is a junior at Leland High School and the Opinions page editor for the Charger Account. During his free time, he enjoys playing badminton, sleeping, and mountain biking.










Cindy Zhao

Editor-in-Chief, Media Manager


Cindy is a senior at Leland High School and the Editor-in-Chief for Lifestyle, Entertainment and Feature World as well as the Media Head for The Charger Account. They are a big fan of cameras, skies, and the human capacity for growth. Send them nice poetry and art prints, and they will love you forever.

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