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Starlink will provide free in-flight WiFi later this year

Your in-flight internet is going to be provided by Elon Musk.

airplane flying
Image: Unsplash

UPDATE 10/20/2022 9:15 AM ET: SpaceX, the aerospace company owned by Elon Musk, will soon be offering its satellite internet service on airplanes, with the official launch of Starlink Aviation next year.

Your next flight might have in-flight WiFi powered by Starlink satellites. Both semi-private regional carrier JSX and Hawaiian Air are rolling out free, Starlink connectivity for all their passengers.

JSX’s first flights equipped with Starlink internet are scheduled for later this year. It plans to outfit 100 jets to start with.

Hawaiian Air will be operating Starlink-equipped airliners next year. It will be trans-Pacific flights only, with the smaller Boeing 717 planes that operate inter-island not getting the service.

READ MORE: Starlink can now provide internet to cars, boats, and planes

Delta Air Lines is also testing Starlink out, but currently, the company has no firm plans for an announcement or timeframe for the new service.

Because Starlink’s satellites are linked, data can travel through the vacuum of space. That makes it faster than fiber optic cables. It also means less latency than other satellite-based systems, perfect for better in-flight internet.

SpaceX has been asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to approve Starlink on commercial aircraft and shipping vessels for in-flight WiFi use. The FCC has approved testing only at this time. Any agreement with the airlines is pending regulatory approvals.

READ MORE: Starlink can now beam high-speed internet to boats

There are some 2,000 Starlink satellites in near-Earth orbit. Not everyone likes the fact they’re up there. China said that the satellites nearly collided with its space station twice in 2021.

There’s also the chance that space debris in near-Earth orbit could trap us on our planet. That’s only going to get worse if SpaceX is allowed to put the 12,000 CubeSats it wants up into orbit.

READ MORE: Delta’s new AI-powered screen shows personalized flight info

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