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Elon Musk’s plan to launch a phone network revealed in secret Starlink document

AS if he didn’t have enough on his plate, Elon Musk is now plotting to launch a phone network using satellites operated by his aerospace company, SpaceX.

Leaked plans for the experimental project suggest it will offer phone service and voice calls to customers of the Starlink satellite network.

SpaceX is plotting to use its Starlink satellites to launch a phone network


SpaceX is plotting to use its Starlink satellites to launch a phone networkCredit: AP:Associated Press

California-based SpaceX has launched more than 1,000 of the satellites so far and plans to put at least 11,000 more into Earth’s orbit.

Currently, it delivers high-speed internet to 10,000 users, largely in the US. The broadband costs $99 (£75) per month plus a $499 (£380) initial fee.

In a filing to the Federal Trade Commission (FCC) seen by ArsTechnica last Friday, SpaceX petitions to expand Starlink to include a phone service.

Rather than beaming everything through its satellites, the network would largely rely on existing phone circuitry operated by local telecoms.

Starlink satellites streak across the night sky over the UK last year


Starlink satellites streak across the night sky over the UK last yearCredit: Alamy Live News

However, SpaceX also outlined plans for VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) services in addition to its existing broadband services.

This would use Starlink satellites to allow customers to make video calls through their broadband onnection.

“Consumers will have the option of using a third-party, conventional phone connected to a Session Initiation Protocol standards-compliant analog terminal adaptor or a native-IP phone selected from a list of certified models,” the filing reads.

SpaceX is also looking into “standalone voice applications into the Starlink network, including other third-party providers, or possibly developing its own proprietary solution”.

SpaceX is operated by billionaire Telsa boss Elon Musk


SpaceX is operated by billionaire Telsa boss Elon MuskCredit: Reuters

The company did not go into more depth on exactly how that would work.

SpaceX says it would offer cheaper plans to poorer households through the FCC’s Lifeline program.

If the agency accepts, it would subsidize the Starlink services for low-income consumers.

The FCC-funded discount would only reduce Starlink’s $99 monthly fee by $9.25, ArsTechnica reports.

Starlink is a satellite project led by billionaire SpaceX CEO Musk.

Batches of up to 60 satellites are loaded into Falcon 9 rockets and blasted into Earth's orbit


Batches of up to 60 satellites are loaded into Falcon 9 rockets and blasted into Earth’s orbitCredit: Twitter

Musk intends to put small 12,000 satellites into Earth’s orbit within the next few years, possibly rising to 42,000 in future.

The “mega-constellation” will eventually be able to beam internet coverage to anywhere on the planet, according to SpaceX.

SpaceX also intends to sell satellites for military, scientific and exploratory purposes.

It’s not the only bonkers project that SpaceX has in the works.

Last week, the aerospace firm announced plans to launch four people on a capsule to orbit the Earth in “the world’s first all-civilian mission”.

Billionaire Jared Isaacman, the CEO of Shift4 Payments, bought the spaceflight and will command it when it takes off in late 2021.

What is SpaceX?

Here’s what you need to know…

SpaceX is a cash-flushed rocket company that wants to take man to Mars.

It was set up by eccentric billionaire Elon Musk in 2002 and is based in Hawthorne, California.

SpaceX’s first aim was to build rockets that can autonomously land back on Earth for refurbishment and re-use.

The technology makes launching and operating space flights more efficient, and therefore cheaper.

SpaceX currently uses its reusable Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets to fly cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) for Nasa.

It also carries satellites and other space tech into orbit for various government agencies and multinational companies.

The company took astronauts to the ISS for the first time in 2020.

Other future missions involve carrying tourists to the ISS and astronauts to the Moon and Mars.

Musk has repeatedly said he believes humanity must colonise Mars to save itself from extinction.

He plans to get a SpaceX rocket to the Red Planet by 2027.

Isaacman is donating the three other seats “to crew members who will be selected to represent the mission pillars of leadership, hope, generosity and prosperity,” SpaceX stated in a press release.

Called Inspiration4, the mission is aimed at raising $200million for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

A health care worker at the children’s hospital has already been chosen for the mission.

People donating to St Jude this month will be put into a drawing for the third seat.

A business owner who uses Shift4 Payments, Isaacman’s Pennsylvania-based credit card processing company, will get the fourth seat.

The full crew will be announced next month.

Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites lit up UK skies last night – and some people thought they were UFOs

In other news, SpaceX completed its second successful Starship booster test flight in Setpember.

Musk wants to send humans to Mars as early as 2024 aboard one of the huge rockets.

And, Nasa set a hillside on fire during a recent test of the “most powerful rocket ever built”.

What do you think of Musk’s plans for Starlink? Let us know in the comments!

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