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Tuesday April 16, 2024

Elon Musk's SpaceX tweets for first time using Starlink's Direct-to-Cell satellite

Elon Musk's SpaceX aims to provide Starlink's Direct-to-Cell service to more consumers later this year

By Web Desk
February 26, 2024
60 Starlink satellites stacked together before deployment on 24 May 2019. — Starlink
60 Starlink satellites stacked together before deployment on 24 May 2019. — Starlink

About a month after sending their first text message from space using Starlink's Direct-to-Cell satellite, SpaceX announced that users could use its satellite services to post on X (previously known as Twitter) for the first time using a mobile device.

Later this year, the Elon Musk-led company SpaceX intends to introduce its Direct- to-Cell service to consumers with the goal of providing worldwide cell phone coverage, according to Interesting Engineering.

Musk reposted SpaceX's message and clarified that only a satellite and a cell phone were utilised for connectivity.

Senior director of satellite engineering at SpaceX Ben Longmier shared a picture of a Californian mountain range on X, most likely from the location where they were using DTC satellite services to relay communications.

Longmier said: “This was the tree cover in a small valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains earlier in the day when we were exchanging some DMs on X.”

It can be difficult to connect to satellites when there is a lot of tree cover. Trees can impede the satellite's and the receiving device's line of sight, which can lead to signal loss or interference.

Other challenges exist when it comes to connecting cell phones to satellites. 

Satellites' quick movements, Doppler shift, timing errors, and the challenge of connecting cellphones to far-off satellites because of low transmit power and antenna gain are among these.

Nevertheless, SpaceX claims that these obstacles can be overcome by their Starlink satellites, which are designed with specialised silicon, phased array antennas, and sophisticated software algorithms, providing standard LTE connectivity to mobile phones based on the ground.

On January 2, SpaceX launched the first batch of Starlink satellites that can transmit phone signals straight to smartphones. With T-Mobile, SpaceX has partnered to offer network access in selected US regions.

In addition, SpaceX will work with wireless carriers KDDI, Optus, One NZ, and Rogers to introduce Direct-to-cell technology throughout the world.