Elon Musk deal sees Ireland's National Space Centre shoot for stars

One of the richest men in the world, tech billionaire Elon Musk, is becoming quite enamoured with Ireland’s potential for his Starlink project, with the National Space Centre in Midleton joining his satellite broadband revolution.

Elon Musk deal sees Ireland's National Space Centre shoot for stars

Ireland’s space headquarters in Elfordstown in East Cork remained tight-lipped on speculation that it has become another location for his Starlink ground equipment, declining to comment.

However, what looks like giant golf balls are now visible at the Midleton facility, a telltale sign for Starlink spotters all over the world.

The Starlink Space Centre project has become a fascination among technology enthusiasts, with Musk’s vision of dominating the fast broadband landscape in hard-to-reach areas.

Starlink says its satellites are over 60 times closer to Earth than traditional satellites, which results in lower latency and the ability to support services typically not possible with traditional satellite internet.

Latency is the time it takes to send data from one point to the next. Starlink claims that having its network of close satellites dotted throughout the atmosphere means better quality for the likes of video calls and online gaming.

According to Starlink’s website, the firm is “now delivering initial beta service both domestically and internationally, and will continue expansion to near global coverage of the populated world in 2021”. 

As more satellites are launched, more ground stations are installed, and networking software is improved, that means data speed, latency and uptime will improve dramatically for users, Starlink has claimed.

It was revealed earlier this week that the Black Valley in Kerry was roped into the Starlink project, with a top secret agreement reached between the Tesla chief’s venture and Kerry County Council.

Locals in the Black Valley have had to endure a long wait to join the rest of the country in technological advances, due to its remote location. 

Mobile phone coverage remains poor at times, while a previous broadband project had to be restricted to local schoolchildren.

While the cost of joining the Starlink community is far more expensive than joining regular service providers, it may appeal to weary users in Ireland that have been waiting years to receive quality broadband in their area.

Beta users in the US had to buy Starlink ground equipment for $499 (€410) as well as a $99 monthly fee, while similar costs will exist in Ireland.

Musk’s SpaceX firm has long had ambitions for satellite broadband, with years of research and development thought to have cost upwards of $10bn.

Launching 60 satellites per go, it aims to have almost 1,500 by the end of this year or early next year, according to space experts.

In a show of confidence in its exploits, SpaceX filed paperwork with the International Telecommunication Union for 30,000 satellites in late 2019.

South African inventor Musk is worth around $180bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index.

Originally published at Irish examiner