FP TrendingOct 01, 2020 13:29:10 IST
In what can be considered as the first public use of SpaceX’s internet-from-space system, Starlink satellites, emergency responders in Washington are using the internet to reach residents devastated by wildfires.
Elon Musk’s firm has loaned seven of its terminals to access its satellites to the Washington Emergency Management Division (WEMD). Using the satellites, the rural areas are getting connected to the internet, thus pacing up the rescue and relief work.
SpaceX plans to put 12,000 satellites in orbit at various altitudes in the Starlink constellation. These low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites will form the expansive Starlink broadband network, designed to provide worldwide high-speed internet access by ensuring that at least one satellite is always above the horizon for anyone on Earth. With about 800 satellites sent to the orbit till now, the whole plan is likely to take some time to finish. But it is already proving to be useful.
The public information officer of WEMD Steven Friederich spoke with CNN and said how WEMD had already contacted SpaceX and was in discussion with the firm about improving access to more reliable internet in rural areas when a rural town in eastern Washington called Malden experienced a devastating wildfire.
According to the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office, about 80 percent of the homes and buildings in Malden were “completely destroyed” by the fast moving wildfire that struck the area on 7 September.
Following this, the loaned terminals were set up to connect the residents and emergency respondents via the internet. When asked for a comment, SpaceX spokespersons refused to do so but instead pointed to a reply written by CEO Elon Musk to WEMD’s tweet.
The emergency management division had posted pictures of the devastation and how the terminals were proving to be useful, thanking SpaceX’s satellites.
Happy to have the support of @SpaceX’s Starlink internet as emergency responders look to help residents rebuild the town of Malden, WA that was overcome by wildfires earlier this month. #wawildfire pic.twitter.com/xUSQOjcT4T
— WA Emergency Management 😷 (@waEMD) September 28, 2020
To this Musk wrote that he was “glad” SpaceX could help and the firm was “prioritizing emergency responders & locations with no Internet connectivity at all”.
Glad SpaceX could help! We are prioritizing emergency responders & locations with no Internet connectivity at all.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 28, 2020