SpaceX defied the old adage “The sky’s the limit” yet again. The company launched another 60 Starlink satellites into space with the assistance of the Falcon rocket, a reusable booster. The launch marked the unprecedented fourth flight of a booster for SpaceX. The cargo comprised compact, 575-pound, flat-panel devices that took their places in orbit. They join 60 satellites deployed in May 2019. (Find a re-cap of the first launch here: “SpaceX Launches 60 Satellites.”) The satellites make up an orbiting network designed to provide truly global internet coverage.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk plans to put thousands of Starlink satellites in orbit. With this second launch, he is another step closer to his goal of providing cable-free internet coverage to every populated area on Earth.
So far, so good—sort of. SpaceX is keeping an eye on one satellite that has a potential problem. If it cannot make it past the initial 174 mile-high orbit distance, SpaceX will command the faulty Starlink component to drop from the sky. It will burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere.
Only a few short years ago, internet service in most of the world was spotty, clunky, and rare. Cables and wires brought the cyber network directly into office buildings. But few homes were connected.
Demand for web access was great, though. The introduction of faster connection speeds and wireless internet were game changers. Public spaces like hotels, doctor’s offices, and coffee shops offered “free” Wi-Fi. Today, most homes in developed countries easily connect to internet services. But lesser developed countries don’t. It’s still too difficult and costly to run internet cables into poor and remote areas.
Can stretching the internet through space solve the accessibility problem? SpaceX thinks so. But it isn’t the only company in the game. OneWeb and Jeff Bezos’ Amazon are also competing for sky space.
For Musk, internet satellites are a means to an end. He hopes Starlink revenue will fund spacecraft development. His eyes are set on Mars.
Change can mean saying goodbye to what we’re used to. Will the old internet infrastructure of cables become obsolete, like wired telephones and dial-up modems? Probably. But change also makes things better. Ultimately, God uses change to advance His kingdom. He promises that all nations will know Him, and He uses people—their work, their communications—to share knowledge of Him.
How might global internet help achieve the promise of Psalm 22:27: “All the ends of the Earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you”?