September 27, 2021

SpaceX ships 100,000 Starlink terminals to customers as it awaits licensing approval


A trail of a group of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites passing over Uruguay 


Image: Getty Images

Elon Musk has announced that his SpaceX Starlink project, which aims to deliver global broadband service through a satellite constellation, has shipped 100,000 terminals to customers.

Shipping the terminals to customers brings the company a step closer to achieving its goal of delivering broadband connectivity to locations where access is unreliable or completely unavailable.

Each Starlink Kit comes with a Starlink terminal, Wi-Fi router, power supply, cables, and mounting tripod.

Under the project, beta services are currently operating in 11 different countries. SpaceX outlined as part of beta services that users can expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mbps to 150Mbps and latency from 20ms to 40ms in “most locations over the next several months” while the Starlink system continues to be enhanced. There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all, the company added.

Musk, however, noted licence approval to be able to provide telco services remained pending in “many more countries”. 

“Hoping to serve Earth soon,” he wrote in a tweet.

The delivery of the terminals come as the SpaceX said it plans to go-live in September with its low-Earth orbit Starlink satellite broadband. In June, SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell confirmed the company had already deployed 1,800 satellites into orbit.

Elsewhere, Virgin Orbit is set to become a publicly-traded company on Nasdaq after entering into merger agreement with special purpose acquisition company NextGen.

The company confirmed the deal would be valued at $3.2 billion and provide the combined company up to $483 million in cash, including up to $383 million of cash held in the trust of NextGen and a $100 million private investment in public equity (PIPE). The combined company will retain the Virgin Orbit name and trade under the ticker symbol VORB when it’s listed on the Nasdaq.

Virgin Orbit said it expects to use the funds from the business combination and PIPE transaction to further scale its rocket manufacturing and growth in its space solutions business.

“I’m very excited we are taking Virgin Orbit public, with the support of our partners at NextGen and our other wonderful investors. It’s another milestone for empowering all of those working today to build space technology that will positively change the world,” Virgin Orbit founder Richard Branson said.

Subject to approval by NextGen’s shareholders, the proposed business combination is expected to be completed by Q4 2021.

“The space economy is developing rapidly and Virgin Orbit is well positioned to benefit through its ability to competitively launch at any time, from any place on Earth, to any orbit and inclination,” NextGen co-founders George Mattson and Greg Summe said.

“We look forward to leveraging our industry and financial experience, along with our public company leadership and governance experience to help Virgin Orbit deliver the next chapter of its exciting journey as a public company.”

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