The past week rumors that Elon Musk is planning to provide internet to Tesla vehicles using Starlink Satellites once again gained steam after SpaceX filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to be allowed to install Starlink terminals on “earth stations in motion”.
SpaceX in its filing didn’t specify which vehicles the company is targetting to install its terminals however, said “No longer are users willing to forego connectivity while on the move, whether driving a truck across the country, moving a freighter from Europe to a U.S. port or while on a domestic or international flight,”
Given the wording in the filling and the fact that Elon Musk is the CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX, it led people to believe the first “earth stations in motion” will be Tesla vehicles. However, in a tweet Monday night Elon Musk has put cold water to the rumors.
Responding to an article claiming SpaceX is looking to put the Starlink terminals in Tesla vehicles, Musk on Twitter said rather SpaceX is targeting aircrafts, ships, large trucks, and RVs. And the reason Tesla cars won’t get satellite internet is the size of the Starlink terminals.
Not connecting Tesla cars to Starlink, as our terminal is much too big. This is for aircraft, ships, large trucks & RVs.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 8, 2021
In order to connect to the now over 1000 Starlink satellites orbiting earth, SpaceX provides customers with a phased array antenna. The antenna named “Dishy McFlatface” has a diameter of 19 inches and also requires a motorized stand to locate the satellites which also adds to the bulk.
As a result, putting the terminal on to cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks will be too much of an eyesore not to mention how negatively it will affect the aerodynamics of the vehicles. Going forward Musk thinks 5G will be the way to go for connection in Tesla vehicles.
However, there is still a slight chance in the future Musk might reconsider putting Starlink terminals onto Tesla vehicles. Asked by a Twitter user if SpaceX can do a smaller, more mobile version of their Starlink terminal Musk hinted it was a good idea. If SpaceX ends up producing smaller terminals depending on the decrease in size it might once again make sense for Tesla vehicles to be getting Starlink internet.
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The picture at the top of this article is taken from a video Zack and Jesse from the Now You Know youtube channel recorded about the Starlink terminal. Zack and Jesse after getting their Starlink terminal put the equipment on their Model X and try to test how far they can drive before the internet starts working.
They start by driving a mile away, then to a different zip code, then to a neighboring state. And every time the Starlink terminal was able to connect to the satellites and provide internet. Ultimately after traveling over 20 miles they decide the Starlink terminals are not geofenced and can basically be used wherever, at least wherever SpaceX satellites are present.
In the video, the father and son duo basically prove Tesla owners if they wanted to could already put Starlink terminals on their vehicles and go to areas with no internet access. However, driving with the terminal attached will bring up a whole host of problems.
So what do you think? Are you let down that Tesla vehicles won’t be getting Starlink internet? Any of you plan to get the terminals and just put them on your vehicles? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.
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Tinsae Aregay has been following Tesla and The evolution of the EV space on a daily basis for several years. He covers everything about Tesla from the cars to Elon Musk, the energy business, and autonomy. Follow Tinsae on Twitter at @TinsaeAregay for daily Tesla news.