We have lift-off.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has a quarter of a million subscribers for Starlink even as the price tag for the satellite broadband service has gone up.
‘Fly Me to The Moon’
The success of Starlink is vital to Musk’s plan to turn SpaceX into a company capable of transporting people to the moon and Mars.
“We currently have 250,000 subscribers, and that’s across consumer, enterprise and many businesses,” Jonathan Hofeller, vice president of Starlink commercial sales at SpaceX, said during a panel at the Satellite 2022 conference, according to SpaceNews.
Hofeller, who noted that SpaceX is manufacturing “close to eight satellites a day” at its Redmond, Wash. facility, also said that SpaceX is looking at the inflight internet market, which he said “is ripe for overhaul.”
Last month, SpaceX unveiled Starlink’s premium service, which includes a dish, a WiFi router and a tripod, will cost users a total of $2,500 for the hardware and another $500 a month for the service.
The standard service costs $499 for the hardware and $99 a month. SpaceX has now launched 2,335 Starlink satellites to date, including spacecraft that were decommissioned or suffered failures, to support its global network.
Musk, who is also the CEO of the electric vehicle maker Tesla (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc Report, is looking to build Starlink into a business that generates around $30 billion in annual revenue by 2025 before either selling the unit or having it go public.
The SpaceX story got even more interesting on Monday when the company stepped up for its British competitor OneWeb.
OneWeb had to scrub its previous launch plan to send a batch of 36 satellites to space aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket after the head of the Russian space agency demanded that the British government divest its $500 million stake in the company.
The move came in response to UK sanctions on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.
“We are pleased to announce that we have entered into a launch agreement with @SpaceX that will enable OneWeb to resume satellite launches,” the company tweeted. “The first launch with SpaceX is anticipated later this year.”
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
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OneWeb, which is partially owned by the British government, is currently marketing its services to businesses rather than directly to consumers, as SpaceX does with Starlink.
Meanwhile, Musk has sent multiple shipments on Starlink internet stations to help Ukrainians stay in touch with the world.
He has also quietly sent some Tesla Powerwalls, an integrated battery system that stores solar energy, to Ukraine to help the war-torn country.
Starlink has been “very effective” in keeping Ukrainians online during the Russian invasion, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said in an interview Friday with The Washington Post.
‘The Truth Always Wins’
“The quality of the link is excellent,” Fedorov told the Post through a translator, using a Starlink connection from an undisclosed location. “We are using thousands, in the area of thousands, of terminals with new shipments arriving every other day.”
Starlink technology is being used by civilians in areas under attack that have lost Internet service, and by government officials.
Last month Fedorov appealed directly to Musk, the world’s richest man, for help, tweeting that “while you try to colonize Mars – Russia try to occupy Ukraine!”
“While your rockets successfully land from space – Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people!” Federov said. “We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand.”
Musk, who recently challenged Russian President Vladmir Putin a fight, came through for Ukraine.
Last week Fedorov tweeted about “A new batch of Starlink stations!”
“While Russia is blocking access to the Internet, Ukraine is becoming more open to the entire world. Ukraine is the truth,” Fedorov said. “The truth always wins. Thank you, @elonmusk, the Government of Poland, and Orlen.”
Starlink satellites are also helping Ukrainian military drones destroy Russian tanks and army trucks, the Times of London reported.
The drones are equipped with anti-tank grenades that are launched at their target.