The U.S. Air Force and SpaceX are testing the capacity of the latter’s Starlink satellite constellation to provide encrypted broadband connectivity to military transport planes, Reuters reported Tuesday.
Tim Hughes, senior vice president at SpaceX, said the team used two Starlink satellites to transmit signals to ground terminals that handle C-12 twin turboprop aircraft as part of the Air Force’s Global Lightning program. Test results show that the Starlink network was able to provide speeds of 610 megabits per second, Hughes noted.
“We are delivering high bandwidth into the cockpit of Air Force planes,” said Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX and a 2019 Wash100 winner. “Right now we’re just testing the capability and figuring out how to make it work.”
SpaceX launched the first 60 of the planned 30K small satellites that will comprise the Starlink constellation in May. The firm plans to send an additional 60 of the smallsats in November.