In the wake of the FCC’s approval of Starlink service for large vehicles, SpaceX launched a $5,000 per month Starlink Internet service plan for yachts and oil rigs. It calls the new plan the Starlink Maritime service.
Starlink’s official website advertises Starlink Maritime as a service that can provide download speeds of up to 350 Mbps to users at sea.
The specialized Starlink kit for the new Maritime service costs $10,000 and includes two high-performance terminals. Starlink says that the terminals would require “minimal space” on the deck. Musk said that improving the terminals for use at sea, including making it more resistant to corrosive sea water and high winds, was the expensive part.
Elon Musk says that, even at the $5,000 a month price, it’s still cheaper than most alternative Internet access options for use at sea:
SpaceX operates several ships as part of its rocket launch services, which includes drone barges for rocket stages to land on. It also has a couple of recovery ships named “Bob” and “Doug” in honor of the two astronauts who flew on the Demo-2 mission, which was the first crewed mission for the SpaceX Crew Dragon. It formerly tried to catch rocket fairings in a net strung between two ships before deciding that it would be easier to simply retrieve and refurbish them. So it would naturally be sensitive to the costs of maintaining an Internet connection at sea.
Starlink access for residential buildings costs $110 per month. Access for parked RVs costs $135 per month. The equipment for both costs $599, though SpaceX has repeatedly said that it plans to bring the price for the “Starlink kit” down by improving the efficiency of manufacturing them.
Starlink also has a $500 per month business plan that offers speeds up to 500 Mbps. The equipment for businesses costs a one-time fee of $2,500. Starlink said that one of the perks of the plan is that businesses can operate it from anywhere, making it useful for employees who expect to be on the go as part of their jobs.
Starlink promises that all of its services will try to keep latency as low as possible – something made more feasible by the low Earth orbits that its satellites operate in, as opposed to some competitors’ more distant geosynchronous orbits. However, it says that the Starlink Maritime service might occasionally experience service interruptions.
The terms and conditions also state that signals from Starlink might be slower during times of high usage. The satellites only have so much capacity and might slow signals down during times of high congestion.
SpaceX has indicated that it is ready to continue improving Starlink’s capacity by filling in the third Starlink orbital shell. This shell includes six orbital planes at an altitude of 560 kilometers and an inclination of 97.6 degrees. It will begin launching satellites into the third shell from Vanderberg Air Force Base in California at 6:39pm PDT on July 10, 2022. These satellites will go into a sun-synchronous orbit.