SpaceX helps out town of Malden with satellite-powered internet

MALDEN, Wash. — Satellites in space are helping people in Malden get back online after a devastating wildfire leveled the town in early September.

A new project by SpaceX founder Elon Musk aims to connect all corners of the globe with high-speed internet. People in Malden are among the first to test out the new technology.

Before the fire, you were lucky to get good cell service in the small town.

Now, you can stream movies and everything else online. SpaceX is providing the service for free—billionaire Elon Musk says his top priority is helping emergency responders who don’t have internet access.

A tiny, white receiver could soon connect remote parts of the world to the World Wide Web.

Right now, it’s helping first responders and the town of Malden get back online.

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Washington Emergency Management tweeted that they were happy to have the support of SpaceX’s Starlink internet as first responders help residents rebuild.


Elon Musk replied back, “Glad SpaceX could help!”

Steven Friederich with Washington Emergency Management told GeekWire that internet in places like Malden would be nearly impossible without the Starlink service.

It’s an ambitious project—to date, SpaceX has launched more than 600 solar-powered satellites. They only weigh about 500 pounds each, and SpaceX launches 60 at a time. They hope to have 12,000 of them in orbit over the next few years.

The satellites follow each other like train cars, circling the globe and beaming down internet service to anyone with a white receiver. Musk says the project will provide affordable internet service to folks living in remote areas. Starlink users will be able to download 100 megabits per second—enough speed to stream two high-definition movies at the same time.

While the project has the potential to connect millions of people, some astronomers worry that the long trains of satellites will obscure observatories on the ground.

A long exposure image showed how Starlink satellites cause streaks which could potentially blind telescopes watching for asteroids and other near-Earth objects. Some astronomers fear the satellite constellations will impact the ability to prevent and warn the world.

Starlink could be available to the public in some areas by the end of this year. It’ll likely cost around $80 a month to connect.

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