Here are the 7 big space companies in the race to build a global satellite-internet network

Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Dan Goldberg
Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Dan Goldberg.

  • Satellite broadband is becoming an increasingly popular way to connect to the internet.
  • Major space companies are offering super-fast internet, which beams down from satellites in orbit.
  • They have one thing in common – they’re racing to become the biggest name in satellite broadband.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
SpaceX’s Starlink

Elon Musk
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

Out of all the companies, Starlink is the one that has launched the most satellites into orbit.

Elon Musk’s space venture currently has more than 1,350 satellites in orbit, with plans to launch up to 42,000 by mid-2027. Eventually, Starlink — a subdivision of SpaceX — wants to wrap thousands of satellites around the Earth to build a global network. 

Starlink’s “Better Than Nothing Beta” test went live in October and has since gained over 10,000 users across six different countries.

Starlink’s business model directly connects customers to the satellites — there are no telecommunications companies involved in between.

Users sign up to Starlink via its website. When the service is up and running in the area, subscribers receive an email to buy the kit. Starlink may even offer users $99 preorders, like it did in Australia, Mexico and parts of the US, where the network isn’t live yet.

Once the order has been accepted, Starlink sends the kit, including a tripod, WiFi router and terminal to customers. Overall, this costs users $499 for the kit and $99 for the monthly Starlink subscription for up to 210 Megabits per second. Customers then set up the kit themselves.

Starlink is rapidly expanding — it plans on attaching antennas to moving vehicles to connect them to the satellite network.

Not everyone is fully on board with Starlink’s dominance. Local internet service providers in the US say Starlink is using “unproven” technology with its satellite constellation. They have asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to look into its application for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, for which Starlink was awarded $885 million.

Amazon’s Project Kuiper

Jeff Bezos Amazon
Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos.

Project Kuiper, a subsidiary of Amazon, came to light in 2018 when government filings revealed the tech giant was going ahead with building a global space-based internet service.

The project aims to blast 3,236 satellites to 630 kilometers in orbit, very close to Starlink’s satellites at 550 kilometres.

In January, the FCC gave Project Kuiper regulatory approval to launch its satellite fleet into space by July 2029 and connect with antennas on the Earth to provide internet service.

50% of its satellites should be operational by July 30, 2026.

It’s not yet clear what Project Kuiper’s satellites will look like or which rocket they will be launched on, but Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin could send them into orbit via its New Glenn rocket.

Sources told Insider in 2019 that Project Kuiper’s headquarters are a few miles from Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

The UK’s OneWeb

A Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with a Fregat upper stage block and 36 OneWeb satellites blasts off from a launch pad of Vostochny Cosmodrome.
A rocket with 36 OneWeb satellites onboard blasts off from a launch pad of Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia.

OneWeb is a British-owned satellite broadband provider that currently has 146 satellites at 1,200 km in orbit and plans to have 648 satellites in total to offer a global network.

The firm was rescued from bankruptcy by the UK government and India’s Bharti Group in November and now pledges to invest $1 billion in the company.

OneWeb wants to provide internet to the whole of the UK by June. Its most recent launch on March 25 will deliver internet coverage to the top of the globe down to the 50th degree latitude, covering countries such as Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Russia, the Nordic countries, and northern Europe.

The UK firm offers a business-to-business model, whereby it provides satellite internet to telecommunications companies, which then distribute the service to customers.

Chris McLaughlin, chief of government, regulation and engagement at OneWeb told Insider the company has had discussions with the government about becoming part of the UK’s $6.9 billion Project Gigabit — just like Starlink.

OneWeb and Starlink satellites almost collided into each other in orbit on April 3 that could have sent thousands of debris pieces flying around space, adding to the space junk crisis.

McLaughlin told Insider on Monday it was “no one’s fault but a big challenge” to avoid this from happening.

Hughes Net

2016 JUPITER 2 Encapsulation
Hughes Jupiter 2 satellite team.

Hughes Net, the biggest satellite internet provider in the US, relies on satellites positioned 22,500 miles away in geostationary orbit to beam internet back down to Earth.

The main difference between the low-Earth orbit satellites and the bigger geostationary (GEO) satellites is that the latter are much further away in orbit and as a result can cause second-long delays in video calls and other technology. 

But GEO satellites are in a fixed position, so unlike LEO satellites, they don’t move around in orbit and target their internet service in one specific area.

Hughes, with more than 1.5 million subscribers, has six satellites in orbit, which cover various parts of North and South America and Canada, including Mexico, Brazil, and Chile.

Hughes Net spokesperson Sharyn Nerenberg told Insider the company is purely focused on providing internet to the Americas.

The last satellite Hughes launched was in June 2018 and it’s aiming to send another one into orbit, named Jupiter 3, in the second half of 2022. Nerenberg said Jupiter 3 is going to be the largest commercial satellite ever launched.

Those who sign up for Hughes Net receive a kit through the post and get it installed by an outsourced company.

Costs for Hughes satellite service range from $59.99 to $149.99 per month for 25 Mbps download speeds. The kit is priced at $249.99 with a $199 installation charge, taking the total purchase price to $449.98 — $50 cheaper than SpaceX’s Starlink.

Nerenberg also said Hughes offers community WiFi hotspots via its satellite network to small rural areas in Latin America for those who can’t afford a subscription.

Canada’s Telesat

Satellite services operator Telesat CEO and president Daniel Goldberg listens during a session at the World Summit For Satellite Financing, as part of the World Satellite Business Week in Paris on September 13, 2011.
Satellite services operator Telesat CEO and president Daniel Goldberg listens during a session at the World Summit For Satellite Financing.

Telesat, headed by Dan Goldberg, already has 15 GEO satellites more than 35,000 km (22,200 miles) above Earth.

The Canadian company is also planning a LEO constellation called “Lightspeed” — the first batch of 298 satellites, built by Thales Alenia Space, are expected to be launched by early 2023. The goal is to provide full global service by 2024.

Goldberg confirmed during the Satellite 2021 LEO Digital Forum on April 6, per Space News, that Lightspeed would cost $5 billion. This much cheaper than SpaceX’s and Amazon’s projects which exceed the $10 billion mark.

He told Reuters on Sunday that Telesat is “in the sweet spot” with pricing.

In 2019, Telesat signed a launch deal with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin to use its rockets, such as the proposed New Glenn, to blast its LEO satellites into orbit.

David Wendling, Telesat’s chief technical officer, told Reuters the company has three other launch deals in the pipeline. 

 

 

ViaSat

In this photo illustration the ViaSat logo is displayed on a smartphone.
The ViaSat logo is displayed on a smartphone.

Californian-based ViaSat operates five GEO satellites around 22,000 miles above the surface of the Earth.

It’s adding to this constellation at the start of 2022 by putting three “ultra-high capacity GEO satellites” into orbit, which will give global coverage by 2023, a ViaSat spokesperson told Insider.

ViaSat is also planning on putting 288 satellites into low-Earth orbit (LEO) by 2026.

Mark Dankberg, ViaSat’s executive chairman and co-founder, told Insider on Thursday that having both GEO and LEO satellites complement each other.

He said ViaSat are trying to create a “multiorbital constellation where you use GEO satellites and LEO satellites in a way that look seamless to users.”

Dankberg gave an example of the benefits of using different orbital satellites for videos online: The LEO satellites can offer the latency — the delay between a user’s actions and the internet’s response — and the lower cost bandwidth from GEO satellites.

In December, Viasat asked the FCC to study the potential environmental impacts of Starlink. In response, Musk tweeted: “Starlink ‘poses a hazard’ to Viasat’s profits, more like it.”

Dankberg said it’s common for companies to become “frenemies” in the space industry. Despite having a launch contract with SpaceX, ViaSat is concerned about the thousands of satellites SpaceX is putting into orbit.

Launching more satellites leads to a higher chance of collision, resulting in more space debris which could be a “doomsday scenario for space,” according to Dankberg.

Eutelsat

EUTELSAT KONNECT satellite launch team
Konnect satellite launch team.

Eutelsat is a European satellite operator that has 39 GEO satellites positioned at 46,000 kilometres away in orbit. 

The company currently provides internet to parts of Europe, Africa, and parts of the Middle East and plans to launch another satellite called Konnect VHTS, which will cover the rest of Europe.

Michel Azibert, Eutelsat’s deputy CEO, told Insider on Friday: “Konnect VHTS will be a game-changer, enabling Eutelsat to provide powerful connectivity seamlessly to the end user at a price comparable to those of terrestrial operators.”

Prices for Eutelsat’s satellite company range between €30 and €70 per month for speeds between 30 and 100 Mbps, with an upfront fee between €49 to €149 depending on the market, Azibert said.

He said the pricing was “well below Starlink’s and very well adapted to the rural markets that we are targeting in EMEA.”

Eutelsat’s satellites “are a reliable solution to cost-effectively address areas and regions where fiber will remain too costly to deploy,” he added.

Eutelsat, founded in 1977, sends its satellites into space from Vienna. The first satellite it launched was in 1983.

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SpaceX is spending $1,500 to make each Starlink terminal but customers will only be charged $499, its president says

Elon Musk's Starlink terminal
Elon Musk’s Starlink terminal.

  • Each Starlink terminal used to cost SpaceX $3,000 to make. Now, they’ve been reduced to $1,500.
  • SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said the firm won’t charge users the overall cost of the terminal.
  • She said the price of the terminal should fall to a few hundred dollars in the next year or two.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell on Tuesday said the aerospace company has reduced the cost of each Starlink terminal from $3,000 to $1,500 each.

Starlink customers have to pay $499 for the kit, which includes the user terminal -also known as “dishy” – indicating that SpaceX is covering the remaining cost of $1,000 for each one it produces.

SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment but industry experts told Insider in December it’s not possible for the company to make each terminal for under $500. They said it could actually cost SpaceX nearly $2,000 on each one.

Shotwell confirmed on Tuesday during a virtual panel discussion for the Satellite 2021 LEO Digital Forum that the company had to pay $3,000 for each terminal, before reducing the price to $1,500.

Starlink
$499 Starlink kit displayed in box.

“We’re not charging our customers what it costs us to build those terminals,” she said, adding that SpaceX has “made great progress on reducing the cost” of each Starlink terminal by half the original amount.

At, present Starlink costs users $600 upfront for the “Better Than Nothing Beta” test – that includes a $99 monthly subscription and $499 for the kit, which customers set up at home. It comes with a tripod, WiFi router, and terminal which connects to the Starlink satellites.

While it’s not confirmed how many terminals have been sent out to the beta test subscribers, SpaceX noted in February that Starlink had more than 10,000 users in the US and abroad.

The company also “just rolled out a new version two that saved about $200 off the cost” and is expecting the price of each terminal to reduce to “the few hundred dollar range within the next year or two,” according to Shotwell.

spacex starlink user terminal phased array consumer satellite internet dish antenna ufo on a stick roof los angeles california website
Each Starlink terminal initially cost SpaceX $3,000 to make.

Read more: Starlink’s $499 starter kit fee comes nowhere close to covering SpaceX’s costs for the satellite-internet electronics, telecom experts say

This is good news for Starlink users looking for lower service costs.

For US customers, $600 upfront isn’t bad, since it can be cheaper than the major internet providers. But in the UK, paying £439 for the kit and £89 subscription fee for 150 megabits per second (Mbps) is expensive in comparison with some national providers, which are offering speeds of up to 516 Mbps for £79 per month.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has spoken out in the past about the difficulties with financing Starlink.

The billionaire tweeted in February that the company “needs to pass through a deep chasm of negative cashflow over the next year or so to make Starlink financially viable.”

He added that Starlink is “a staggeringly difficult technical & economic endeavor” but if it succeeds, the cost for users would improve each year.

Starlink’s 10th mission this year blasted off on Wednesday, sending a batch of 60 satellites into orbit to expand SpaceX’s ever-growing constellation. The aerospace company has more than 1,350 satellites in orbit and plans to launch 42,000 by mid-2027.

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5 ways to fix your PS4 when it won’t connect to Wi-Fi

Playstation 4 PS4 controller
These are the five most common solutions for when your PS4 won’t connect to the internet.

  • If your PS4 won’t connect to the internet, the PlayStation Network may be offline.
  • You should also make sure to check your Wi-Fi connection and reset or move your router and modem.
  • You can also try adjusting your PS4’s DNS settings as a final resort to fix connection issues.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

If your PS4 is unable to connect to the internet, you won’t be able to take advantage of many of the console’s most important features, like multiplayer gaming, streaming video, and installing new games.

Here’s how to troubleshoot your connection issues and fix your PS4.

Why won’t my PS4 connect to the internet?

If your PS4 won’t connect to Wi-Fi or the internet, it’s likely one of the following reasons:

  • The PlayStation Network may be offline
  • Your router may not be connected or having larger connectivity issues
  • There may be password issues with your Wi-Fi or console
  • You may need to change your DNS settings on your PlayStation

Check whether the PlayStation Network is online

PS4 Connection 2
Ensure the PlayStation Network is online before you try more extensive troubleshooting steps.

If you can get online but can’t access the PSN, your first step should be to make sure it’s online.

You can go to the PSN Network Status Page on another device to see if the status is green. If it’s down, you might just need to wait a while for the issue to be fixed.

Determine if other devices can connect to the internet

PS4 Connection 3
Check to see if your phone or computer is connected to the internet.

If your PS4 is having trouble connecting to the internet, you might want to narrow down where the problem is right away by determining if the issue is with your PS4 or with your Wi-Fi network.

  • See if other devices are working: Check to see if other devices on your home network, like computers and tablets, are connecting to the internet.
  • Check your connection type: You should also make sure that devices on the same kind of connection are working – for example, if your PS4 is connected to the router with a wired Ethernet cable, then plug a computer into the router as well. If the PS4 is using Wi-Fi, connect to Wi-Fi with your phone and see if it works.
  • Reboot your modem and router: If your other devices can’t connect either, it’s time to power off your modem and router, wait several minutes, and turn them back on. For extra measure, reboot your PS4 after rebooting your router and modem. That means fully powering it down and turning it back on.

Check your PS4’s internet connection to the router

PS4 Connection 4
Try playing with your PS4 Ethernet cables and ports, or move the console closer to your Wi-Fi router.

Your PS4 connecting may not always be an issue with your console. It may be your wired or wireless connection creating your gameplay disruptions – including your device settings.

Here are a few tips on how to test whether it’s your console or your internet connection.

Swap your Ethernet cord: If you are connecting via Ethernet, try swapping out the cable to see if it’s the issue. Another option is to try plugging your cable into a different Ethernet port on the router in the case that the current port has blown.

Move your PS4 console closer to your wireless router: You may be experiencing intermittent signal loss due to the distance – or even walls – between your console and router. You should first try to move them closer if they aren’t already, and if that doesn’t work, try rebooting both your modem and router.

Re-enter your Wi-Fi password

PS4 Connection 5
Go to Settings and choose to set up your internet connection to ensure your Wi-Fi settings are correct.

If you are using Wi-Fi, be sure you are using the correct Wi-Fi password. You can also re-enter it on your PS4 to see if that refreshes your connection. Here’s how.

1. Using the PS4 controller, select “Settings.”

2. Select “Network” and then select “Set Up Internet Connection.”

3. Select “Use Wi-Fi”

4. Select “Easy.”

5. Choose your Wi-Fi network from the list, enter the password, and wait for it to connect.

Check your PS4’s DNS settings as the last resort

PS5 Connection 6
When you choose to test your connection, the PS4 attempts to go online and evaluate the upload and download speed.

If none of the previous steps solved your problem, some users have found that changing the PS4’s DNS server settings – which is like an address book that tells your PS4 how to find locations on the internet – can fix connection issues.

1. Using the PS4 controller, select “Settings.”

2. Choose “Network” and then select “Set Up Internet Connection.”

3. Hit either “Use Wi-Fi” or “Use a LAN Cable” depending upon how you’re connecting.

4 . Select “Custom.” If necessary, choose your Wi-Fi network from the list.

5. Choose “Automatic.” Then select “Do Not Specify” and then “Manual.”

6. Pick “Primary DNS” and then enter “208.67.222.222”

7. Select “Secondary DNS” and then enter “208.67.220.220”

8. Hit “Next.”

9. Choose”Automatic.”

10. Select “Do Not Use.”

Now test your internet connection.

How to backup your PS4’s data onto an external hard drive, and your trophies to the PlayStation Network‘Why won’t my PS4 update?’: 3 ways to fix a PS4 that isn’t updatingHow to add an account on your PS4 from the login screen, instead of playing as a guest userHow to upgrade your PS4 games to play on a PS5 with better graphics and frame rates

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Russia walked back its threat to totally block Twitter for failing to delete banned content

Vladimir Putin
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

  • Russia will extend a slowdown of Twitter until May 15, the state communications regulatory said.
  • Russia began throttling the service in March and threatened to ban it altogether over its alleged failure to delete prohibited content.
  • The regulator said Monday that Twitter has sped up the rate of deletion.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Russia’s state communications regulator said on Monday it would extend its move to slow down Twitter until May 15, but that the US social media company was deleting content banned in Russia at a faster rate than it had been.

Russia said on March 10 that it was slowing down the speed of Twitter in retaliation for what it described as a failure to remove banned content, threatening to block the US platform outright if it did not comply with its deletion demands.

Monday’s statement walked back the threat of a ban. The regulator, Roskomnadzor, said Twitter had successfully begun removing content it deemed as child abuse, drug abuse, and suicide content. It said under Russian law, social networks have 24 hours to remove prohibited content, and claimed Twitter’s average removal time was around 81 hours.

It added that Twitter’s European policy VP, Sinead McSweeney, had held talks with Russian authorities on April 1 to explain its moderation changes.

Roskomnadzor said in its statement, translated via Google by Insider: “Taking into account the decision made by Twitter for the first time to change the principles and speed of its own moderation service in Russia and to remove a significant part of the prohibited content in this regard, Roskomnadzor decided not to proceed to the next measure – to completely block the work of the social network on the territory of the country, by extending the restriction Twitter traffic until May 15th.

“Thus, Twitter is given additional time to remove all prohibited content from the social network and bring its activities in full compliance with the laws of our country.”

The news comes after a new Russian law came into effect that requires all smartphones to come pre-installed with Russian software, such as those produced by home-grown giant Yandex.

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A beginner’s guide to broadband internet, the most popular type of internet in the US

High speed internet
Broadband is the most popular type of internet access around.

  • Broadband internet is another name for high-speed internet service, usually defined as 25Mbps or faster.
  • There are four major types of broadband internet: cable, DSL, fiber, and satellite.
  • The average broadband speed in the US is 124Mbps, but DSL is much slower at about 35Mbps, and fiber is the fastest at 1,000Mbps.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Simply put, broadband is any high-speed internet service. Broadband is the most common kind of internet service available, and that’s been true in most populated regions of the US for a couple of decades.

If you’re reading this, there’s an extremely good chance that you’re using broadband internet.

Broadband internet, explained

Prior to the widespread availability of broadband, most internet was delivered to residential homes via dial-up service – the same technology used for telephone calls. This meant that picking up the phone would turn off your internet access, and internet speeds were pathetically slow – about 0.056 megabits per second (Mbps).

These days, nearly every home in the US uses broadband. And in contrast to dial-up, the average broadband speed in the US is about 124Mbps, according to DecisionData.org – that’s about 2,200 times faster.

Router on laptop keyboard
Broadband speeds vary depending upon your location, service provider, and service plan.

While the average broadband speed is 124Mbps, actual broadband speeds vary dramatically depending upon where you live, your service provider, and your actual broadband service plan. Since 2015, the Federal Communications Commission has defined broadband as any service that delivers at least 25Mbps download speed and 3Mbps upload speed, though broadband can also reach “gigabit” speeds – 1,000Mbps.

Broadband isn’t the same thing as Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is the wireless network that broadcasts internet signals around your home or office. “Broadband” describes the type and speed of those signals, which are delivered to your home and then passed through a router. The router can then send the internet to your computer and other devices via Ethernet cable or wirelessly via Wi-Fi.

The four major types of broadband internet

There are four major kinds of broadband service. Not only do they use fundamentally different technologies to get the data to your door, but they vary by speed and price. Here is a brief overview of each:

Cable

Coax Cable modem
Broadband cable internet uses a coaxial cable to transmit internet signals.

Broadband cable internet uses the same coaxial cable that brings cable TV into your home; it’s become a popular form of broadband because it lets consumers use the same company for their television and internet access.

Cable is fairly fast, usually able to reach speeds as high as 500Mbps (depending upon the service plan you choose). Cable’s bandwidth is shared among everyone in a service area, though, so you might find it slows down in the evening when everyone is at home and streaming video.

DSL

A laptop and router
DSL isn’t as fast as other broadband types, but is still better than dial-up.

Digital subscriber line (DSL) uses phone lines to send and receive data and is championed by traditional phone service providers to leverage their infrastructure.

It’s relatively slow, especially compared to cable, generally limited to about 5Mbps to 35Mbps. But in rural areas, it’s often the most available option.

Fiber

Fiber internet line
A fiber optic technician splices together fiber optic cables for house connections.

As the name suggests, fiber uses fiber optic cables to transmit data using light rather than electricity.

It’s generally the fastest residential internet you can buy, topping out at 1,000 Mbps (which is referred to as a “gigabit” service). Like cable, fiber shares bandwidth across groups of customers but carries so much data that customers should never notice a slowdown.

Fiber isn’t available in many areas but is slowly spreading to new cities.

Satellite

Starlink Satellite Internet
Starlink Internet communication satellites seen in the night sky.

Satellite internet isn’t common because it’s typically the most expensive service per megabit, offering the lowest overall value. It’s most often used in rural regions that are poorly serviced by DSL, cable, and fiber.

The economics of broadband satellites might be changing, though, as SpaceX deploys its Starlink constellation of broadband internet satellites. While still being deployed and operating in a limited beta capacity, Starlink costs $99 per month and is expected to eventually offer download speeds of 300Mbps.

Related Article Module: SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites could make astronomy on Earth ‘impossible’ and create a space-junk nightmare, some scientists warn

However Starlink has also proved controversial, as its satellites are clearly visible from Earth, attracting complaints from scientists and environmentalists about light pollution and space junk.

‘Why isn’t my internet working?’: How to identify why you can’t connect to the internet and troubleshoot accordinglyHow to boost your internet speed at home in 8 ways, and make sure you’re not being overcharged for low speeds‘What is a good internet speed?’: The internet speeds you should aim for, based on how you use the internetHow to use a Google speed test to check how fast your internet speed is

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SpaceX is dominating orbit with its Starlink satellites, making the risk of space traffic collision a serious hazard, industry experts say

Elon Musk
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

  • SpaceX Starlink satellites have taken over the lower Earth orbit, experts told Insider.
  • There are apparently 1,300 Starlink satellites in lower orbit and 300 from other entities.
  • “We’re not at the end of the world yet but it’s a serious situation,” another space researcher said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

SpaceX is rapidly deploying its Starlink internet network across the globe with rocket launches happening on a monthly basis.

By rapidly adding to the number of satellites in orbit, space industry experts believe Elon Musk’s space company is heightening the risk of collisions between space objects, generating an abundance of debris.

SpaceX’s Starlink has blasted around 1,300 satellites into orbit and plans for a megaconstellation of up to 42,000 spacecraft in mid-2027.

In October, Starlink launched its Better Than Nothing Beta test across the northern US for $99 a month, plus $499 for the kit. It now operates in more than six countries and has more than 10,000 users worldwide.

Starlink has previously said its satellites can avoid collisions using an ion drive, which allows it to dodge other objects in orbit. But if the satellites’ communications or operations fail in orbit, they become hazards to space traffic.

In the lower part of the Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Starlink satellites “are completely dominating the space object population,” Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told Insider on Tuesday.

He said there are around 300 other satellites in the lower LEO, including the International Space Station, in comparison to the 1,300 Starlink satellites.

“There’s a point at which they are so many of them manoeuvering all the time that it’s a hazard to traffic” in space, McDowell said, adding that the hazard can result in a massive collision, creating junk.

Each satellite travels at 18,000 miles per hour and all of them are going in different directions, according to McDowell. If they smash into each other, it sends hypersonic shockwaves through the satellites and reduces them into thousands of pieces of shrapnel which then make a shell around the Earth, he said.

This becomes a threat to other space users and an obstruction for astronomers observing the skies.

McDowell calculated in November that 2.5% of Starlink satellites may have failed in orbit. This may not sound bad in the grand scheme of things. But if this issue persists, SpaceX’s entire planned constellation may produce more than 1,000 dead satellites.

10,000 satellites are due to launch in the next decade

John Auburn, managing director of Astroscale UK, an orbital debris removal firm headquartered in Tokyo, said in a press briefing on March 17 that more than 10,000 satellites are scheduled to be launched in the next 10 years.

McDowell said satellite companies may have some “nasty surprises” if they get this amount of satellites in orbit. He said firms should stop launching satellites when the amount hits 1,000 and monitor them for a while to see if any problems crop up, such as design flaws.

There could be a “complete catastrophe” on the horizon, McDowell said.

But its not all bad news. Daniel Oltrogge, director at the Center for Space Standards and Innovation, told Insider it’s beneficial that Starlink satellites are in the lower LEO because they can be removed more quickly if they fail.

Oltrogge said the space junk issue isn’t a blame game. Any user of space, including governments, and commercial and civil companies, have all contributed to this picture of space debris today, he said.

There are many problems to tackle, said Oltrogge, including satellite operators complying with guidelines that help minimize collision risks, improving space situational awareness and spacecraft design, and exchanging more data between satellite companies.

But if we don’t address the space junk crisis at a global level, rather than at an operator one, “we risk missing how the environment is degrading,” according to Oltrogge.

“We’re not at the end of the world yet,” Oltrogge said. “But it’s a serious situation that warrants scrutiny.”

Why SpaceX is one of the top satellite launchers

Compared to other private commercial satellite companies, SpaceX comes top trumps. Since May 2019, there’s been a staggering 23 Starlink launches via SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

McDowell believes the company’s acceleration may be down to its CEO. “Elon doesn’t have to answer to many people, he can make decisions effectively, he doesn’t have to diver around and get permission,” he said.

On top of this, he has his own rockets to launch the satellites into orbit, McDowell said. This saves him time and money as he doesn’t have to negotiate another launch contract. The fact that the rockets are reusable – the last Falcon 9 booster on Wednesday’s mission was used six times – also makes it cheap for SpaceX to launch satellites.

“That’s an advantage the other companies don’t have,” said McDowell.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How helpful is SpaceX’s customer support when Starlink customers run into problems? Users gave Insider their verdict.

  • Starlink users told Insider how efficient and helpful Starlink’s customer service team was.
  • Some users thought it was quick, but others had long delays and had to cancel Starlink altogether.
  • “My only wish is that [Starlink] was a bit cheaper,” said one customer from Canada.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Starlink users gave Insider mixed responses about the speed and effectiveness of SpaceX’s customer support team when they ran into problems.

Some users said Starlink’s help was quick but others experienced delays, leading to cancellations of the satellite internet service.

Since the launch of its beta test in October, Starlink has accumulated more than 10,000 users worldwide and operates in more than six countries. SpaceX has more than 1,200 satellites in orbit but the goal is to have up to 42,000 by mid-2027.

Starlink’s beta test is called the “Better Than Nothing” beta and SpaceX warned users in an initial email to expect speeds to range between 50 Megabits per second (Mbps) and 150 Mpbs.

Although users told Insider that setting up the kit is very easy, it’s still possible to run into problems with connectivity.

Rayce Townsend, who is based in Montana, contacted the Starlink team twice via email. He wanted to know whether he could take the kit to Texas and install it there. Starlink told Townsend the service wasn’t yet mobile but he could reapply in Texas for the future.

Townsend said the response was “quick, friendly and thorough.” So far, he’s found Starlink “trouble-free.”

Starlink box with the instructions on top
Starlink box with the instructions on top.

Dan Ventrudo from Northern Ontario, Canada, said he contacted customer service twice about the connection and they were also quick to respond. “My only wish is that [Starlink] was a bit cheaper,” he said.

But Jim Glassford from Michigan wasn’t impressed.

He told Insider: “One thing we were not aware of is the distance restriction for the satellite dish and the power supply. The nearest unobstructed location from the house was about 300 feet and you cannot extend the 100 foot long cable included.”

Glassford got in touch with customer support but it took a week for them to respond. After a bad experience, “we had to cancel,” he said. It’ll cost him $130 to send the kit back to Starlink.

When Gary Konkol from Wisconsin came across technical problems with the power box, Starlink customer support assisted him over several days of emailing. He said it was helpful but there were long delays between messages.

SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment about long delays from its customer service team.

Tom Gooch from Montana said: “I have not needed to contact Starlink customer service. Everything has run flawlessly since I started it up.”

“Elon Musk has a reputation for doing things well and it appears that holds true with Starlink,” Gooch added.

Dishy in rural Montana
Dishy in rural Montana.

Have you got any Starlink tips? Get in touch with this reporter via email: kduffy@insider.com

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What is AFK’s meaning? The history behind the internet acronym and and how to use it in a chat

desktop computer work from home taking a break
AFK is a common acronym used to tell others when you’re offline.

  • AFK means “away from keyboard” in typing shorthand.
  • Its meaning can be literal or it can simply indicate that you aren’t online.
  • AFK is a helpful phrase for communal online spaces, when you want a quick way to communicate that you’re stepping away.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Feeling out of the loop is never fun, and seeing acronyms frequently thrown around online can easily invite that feeling. But taking a few seconds to learn them can help you quickly communicate information.

One such acronym is AFK. Here’s what you need to know to understand and use this acronym in your own online life.

AFK’s meaning

AFK is an acronym that means “away from keyboard.” But it’s primarily meant to convey that you won’t be available at your computer or device for a period of time. You can pair it with a time frame to communicate how long you will be away from your keyboard.

AFK’s origin

The AFK acronym has been around since the early days of internet culture, specifically in chat rooms in the 1990s.

It even dates back to an online news bulletin from FidoNews in 1989, alongside other emoticons and abbreviations. The newsletter defined AFK as “away from keys.”

It was later commonly used in the gaming community for online multiplayer games. You can still find it in various spaces on the internet, though it isn’t as widespread as it once was.

The acronym has had a bit of a resurgence, thanks to the game “Among Us,” in which idle players are often labeled as AFK.

Examples of how to use AFK

Like any other abbreviated term, AFK is easy to introduce into your online lexicon.

For example, if you’re taking a quick break, you might type “going afk brb” (read as: “going away from keyboard, be right back”).

Or if a friend is wondering where another person in the group is, you might type “she’s afk” to quickly let them know that person isn’t online.

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How to buy a domain name for your business or personal website, and 5 things to watch out for

cafe owner using laptop
Purchasing a unique domain name is the first step to building a website for your business or brand.

  • You can buy a domain name from a domain registrar if you’re thinking of launching a business or personal website.
  • Most domains should only cost a few dollars, though you need to renew it annually.
  • Here’s an overview of everything you need to know about buying a domain.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

If you’re starting a business, launching a website, or publishing a blog, you might be in need of your own domain, like www.your-domain-name.com.

Having your own domain makes it easier for people to find you and makes you seem more professional and credible. It also affords you the opportunity to have an email address that’s built on your custom domain rather than having a free Gmail account.

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A guide to 403 errors, and how to troubleshoot the ‘forbidden’ webpage

403 error
You can try a few different troubleshooting tricks to get around a 403 error on a website.

  • A 403 error occurs when a server won’t allow you to access a webpage.
  • You can’t always fix a 403 error on your own, but simple tricks like refreshing your page or clearing your cache could help.
  • If visitors to your webpage are getting 403 errors, you may have to reconfigure it.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

A 403 “forbidden” error sounds more threatening than it is.

This type of error happens when a web server doesn’t allow you to access a webpage. You can’t always fix these sorts of errors, but if you can, the solutions are pretty simple.

Here’s everything you need to know about why these errors happen and what to do if you encounter one.

The most common causes for 403 errors

403 errors occur for a single reason: You’re trying to access a webpage that you don’t have permission to see. Consider it a sister to the 404 error, which means the page simply doesn’t exist.

This isn’t any sort of grand conspiracy. Every website has pages that aren’t open to the public – these are usually spots for the site owners to test new features, or edit other parts of the site.

Dell XPS 15 2019
403 errors aren’t rare, especially if you enter URLs manually.

For example, Insider has pages that are used to edit the text and pictures in a story. People who don’t work at Insider don’t have access to these pages, because if they did, anyone could edit or erase any story at any time.

In most cases, if you’ve hit a 403 error, the solution is to just move on. But if you’re seeing 403 errors on pages that you know you should have permission to see, there’s a deeper issue.

How to troubleshoot a 403 error

Not all 403 errors can be fixed, and not all errors can be fixed by yourself – you might need help from the site’s administrator.

But before you give up, try some of these fixes.

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