Elon Musk’s other company, SpaceX, has won $885 million in federal subsidies to help it expand its Starlink internet service.
Starlink is the constellation of satellites SpaceX is using to provide internet access to underserved regions and communities. Unlike existing satellite options, such as HughesNet, Starlink satellites maintain a low-Earth orbit. This gives the service much lower ping and higher speeds than competing services.
Starlink opened up beta access to customers in the latitudes currently covered by the constellation, and the results have been impressive. Customers have reported speeds in excess of 150 Mbps and ping as low as 39 ms.
The company has now won an $885 million grant to extend its service. The Federal Communications Commission published the list of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I Auction winners. Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) features prominently on the list.
SpaceX initially plans on sending 12,000 satellites into orbit, with the constellation eventually including as many as 42,000. Given the expense of launching those satellites, the federal subsidies will likely go quickly.