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SpaceX Wants to Test Inflight Satellite Internet in US Territories & Territorial Waters

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Charlotte Amalie 𑁋 SpaceX is gearing up for another ambitious global project. It plans to expand testing of its Starlink satellite internet service by connecting its network to inflight aircraft. The latest development at SpaceX was confirmed in a request to the Federal Communications Commission that asked for permission to provide inflight satellite internet to private jets. 

Private jets enrolled in the program that has yet to be approved would have access to high speed internet while taxing at airports and while in flight over the United States.

“SpaceX seeks experimental authority for operation of one user terminal aboard each of up to five private jets while they are (1) on the ground at an airport, and (2) in flight over the United States (including its territories and territorial waters),” the company wrote in a Nov. 6 FCC filing.

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User terminals are small, land-based devices that connect SpaceX’s satellite internet network. Two months ago, SpaceX made a similar request, asking the FCC for permission to test Starlink with ships the company uses to land its revolutionary rocket boosters. The newly filed FCC request is currently pending.

Starlink is a global project by SpaceX to build an internet network by linking thousands of satellites orbiting Earth. Starlink satellites that are in orbit now cover parts of the northwest United States, including Washington state.

Today, SpaceX has launched nearly 900 Starlink satellites, which accounts for just a fraction of the total the company needs to offer global coverage. The experimental project started a beta test of Starlink in October, with the service starting at $99 a month.

The pioneering project, according to SpaceX, will cost the company about $10 billion or more to build and could generate an estimated $30 billion a year once completed. What’s important to understand about the company’s latest FCC request, is that U.S. territories like the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico would be included in Starlink’s coverage area, even if aircraft using its satellite internet service do not fly over territorial waters controlled by the United States.

SpaceX is also working on projects to take humans to Mars for the first time, terraform the planet, and start the first human colony on the red planet.