SpaceX's Starlink service lands first aviation customer

Nope, not Delta – it's a regional semi-private jet operator and service 'won't require' logins


SpaceX has signed its first Starlink contract with an air carrier, and despite recent news it isn't Delta. 

Semi-private airline JSX will be outfitting 100 of its planes with Starlink receivers, providing in-flight Wi-Fi to passengers in a manner that JSX said won't require logging in "or other complexities associated with legacy systems," and will be operating by the end of 2022. 

Earlier speculation had Delta Airlines poised to be the first company to partner with SpaceX to provide in-flight Starlink service, as its CEO Ed Bastian admitted to the company testing the systems on some of its planes. Bastian has declined to make comments outside of that confirmation. 

JSX is decidedly smaller and less recognized than Delta, though. It services several airports in California, Nevada and Arizona, makes three stops in Texas and one between Miami and Westchester County, New York. It also operates a few seasonal flights between Texas and Florida, but far fewer than the 325 destinations flown by Delta. 

SpaceX's satellite internet service has had an eventful 2022, despite the fact that it's only April. In early January the company was caught selling Starlink subscriptions in India without having acquired necessary licenses to operate. Then, in February, a 49-satellite launch during a geomagnetic storm caused all but nine to crash into Earth's atmosphere. In March the company raised Starlink's prices on deposits, hardware and service, and in April it saw both the French government pull its operating license and had a widespread outage across the US and parts of Europe. 

Starlink has also earned some positive attention for providing satellite internet service to war-torn areas of Ukraine.

Elon Musk's satellite internet company is also facing increasingly stiff competition in its market, particularly from Amazon's Kuiper satellite broadband service, which directed some colourful attacks at Musk and his business practices in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission. The letter from Amazon only came after SpaceX first accused Kuiper of using delay tactics to hide its own issues, which all occurred during a SpaceX bid to launch 30,000 satellites (Starlink currently has a network of ~2,000 satellites) for a new satellite constellation. 

Musk and SpaceX have also feuded with competitor Viasat, which expressed concerns to the FCC that Spacelink's plans to move its satellite network closer to Earth's surface would increase satellite collision risks and create more orbital debris.  

Starlink internet service is currently available in most of the US and Europe, portions of Chile and Brazil, the southern half of Australia, and all of New Zealand. The company has said its available locations will expand with the planned growth of its satellite network. ®

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