SpaceX has previously discussed its plans to put a satellite-based broadband Internet network into operation, as a way of supplementing its revenue picture with a brand new revenue stream. Now, we know what SpaceX might call its new broadband product: Starlink.
The name comes from documents filed by SpaceX to obtain the trademark rights to “Starlink,” as reported by GeekWire. The satellite project was first revealed by SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk back in 2015, with the aim of offering low-cost broadband in areas where it’s typically not been available.
SpaceX’s plans to blanket the world in affordable connectivity is going to be an expensive feat in the initial offing (Musk estimates around $10 billion in launch costs over five years), but over time, it’s meant to become a significant revenue generator for the company. SpaceX wants to use the recurring revenue the network will enable to help fund its planned Mars missions and eventual colonization.
SpaceX isn’t alone in chasing this carrot – in fact, a $200 million satellite built by Facebook for the purpose of providing Internet access to sub-Saharan Africa was destroyed when a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded during launch preparations last September.
SpaceX could have some advantages, however, including being its own launch provider, which would allow it to theoretically maintain a much more robust and frequently repaired and upgraded satellite constellation.
There’s no exact timeline on when the plan will come together, but filing for a trademark suggests it’s progressing, as do job openings for SpaceX’s offices near Redmond, where it’s working on this project.