SpaceX announces Starlink Maritime


SpaceX has announced Starlink Maritime for superyachts, oil rigs and commercial vessels. The connectivity service is set to launch in the last quarter of 2022.

The company has now created a maritime connectivity service that can reach download speeds of 350 Mbps across the globe for $5,000 per month.

Joshua Flood, senior research consultant, Valour Consultancy told Superyacht Investor, “SpaceX has beaten OneWeb to the punch with the launch of its maritime services. This has surprised many people in the industry.”

Starlink Maritime will require buyers to pay $10,000 for the initial installation of two pipe mount adapters pieces of hardware for the vessel. After that, however, it is a $5,000 flat fee per vessel with no data cap in place. Subscribers will also have the option to pause the billing at any time

Elon Musk, CEO, SpaceX says the company was paying $165,000 a month for 25 Mbps download and upload speeds of pre-paid bandwidth, and satellite operating costs for its recovery fleet of vessels.

The space company operates a fleet of 10 deep water vessels designed to recover rockets and spacecraft that take both humans and cargo to orbit. These operations require offshore network solutions to deliver large amounts of data immediately in all locations and weather conditions.

Under an experimental license, SpaceX tested and developed Starlink’s maritime terminals before release on its fleet. Compared with its previous provider, SpaceX reported 5900% increased download throughput, 700% added upload throughput, 95% reduction in latency, and a 70% reduction in costs.

There are some reservations with regards to how the service with fare in its infancy. “Presently, the coverage is very limited, with coastal areas in North America and Europe,” said Flood. “Naturally, the primary target will be leisure vessels.”

(Pictured above: A map of Starlink Maritime’s current and planned coverage area.)

The primary change for Starlink Maritime is latency. SpaceX claims that Starlink has reduced latency to just 50ms, allowing operators to respond faster for even greater control. Before Starlink Maritime, the latency of geostationary satellite internet service (VSAT) would cause lag and delayed feedback.

Now, with a max upload speed of 40Mbps on each installation, Starlink has enabled the transfer of 100s of GB of data within hours. This was not possible with its previous VSAT system.

SpaceX said it has also seen improved connection reliability in thunderstorms, which has allowed for reduced crew isolation while at sea. Crew can now have video calls with their families during long periods at sea and enjoy the rapid connectivity solutions available on the vessel.

“The next six months will be all about trialling how the technology works,” said Flood.  “We will see how much traction they get with the bigger applications of merchant, offshore and passenger in 2023.”