Starlink Will Easily Withstand Hurricane Ian Says Musk

Ramish Zafar
Hurricane Ian as photographed by NASA. Image: NASA

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SpaceX chief Mr. Elon Musk shared more details about his company's highly popular Starlink internet service earlier on Twitter where the executive outlined that Starlink's Maritime variant is designed to serve the needs of ships and can withstand strong winds according to Musk.

SpaceX regularly uses Starlink to broadcast live footage of its rockets landing, and additions to the service's website now list three different dishes - with only one for regular users. Ever since Starlink opened up its service for beta users, SpaceX has redesigned its user dishes and dealt with a large number of new users that seem to have strained the satellite internet constellation - particularly for American users that have regularly reported decreasing speeds throughout the course of this year.

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Starlink Can Withstand Wind Speeds Exceeding 174 Miles Per Hour Shares Musk

The headline even right now is the devastating tropical storm Ian, which has wreaked havoc across Florida as it officially crossed the Category 4 level earlier today and came dangerously close to becoming a Category 5 storm. The last Category 5 storm to hit Florida was Hurricane Dean in 2005, which saw wind speeds touch a staggering 175 miles per hour and left $1.6 billion in damages in its wake.

So far, Ian has managed to sustain its wind speeds at 155 miles per hour according to reporting by NewScientist, which left it just one mile per hour short of the Saffir-Simpson scale's definition of a Category 5 storm which starts from sustained wind speeds of 155 miles per hour.

Amidst all this turmoil, Musk shared more details about SpaceX's Starlink Maritime service, which his company announced earlier this year alongside a case study that laid out its performance across SpaceX's drone ships. These ships serve as the landing pads for SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets, and the case study revealed that not only was SpaceX able to reduce internet costs for its ships by 70% through Starlink Maritime but that it also allowed the company to increase data throughput by 5,900%.

SpaceX's monthly internet costs before and after Starlink. Image: SpaceX

In the wake of Ian, Elon Musk has revealed that Starlink for Maritime is capable of withstanding extremely high speed winds, which should see the dishes and the internet service even bear the brunt of a Category 4 hurricane.

Taking to Twitter, the executive revealed that Starlink for Maritime is "Rated for 280+ kph (174+ mph) winds", which should allow it to provide "high speed Internet connectivity heavy seas and hurricane winds".

SpaceX broadcasts its rocket landings live and the force of the Falcon 9's Merlin engine which has to light up until touchdown often led to the drone ship's cameras going offline just before the moment of landing. However, footage from the ships after they were upgraded has become more consistent and sharper - a fact that SpaceX also mentioned in its Starlink case study.

SpaceX's Starlink website also boasts the service's capability to endure "gale force winds" and the thrust generated by its rocket engine. At the time of landing, the Falcon 9 fires up its center Merlin 1D engine, and according to SpaceX, Starlink for Maritime can withstand up to 190,000 pounds of rocket engine thrust.

The dish's specifications on Starlink's website also list down the same wind endurance capabilities outlined by Musk and also outline that the terminal can melt three inches of snow in one hour. The standard dish, available for individuals can melt 1.5 inches of snow in an hour, and wind speed endurance for neither this dish nor the Starlink dish for businesses is listed on the website.

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