On Tuesday, SpaceX's Starlink began taking pre-orders for its satellite broadband internet service. This moves the service from the beta stage to the point where it is open and generally available to the public.
Users wanting to sign up for the service can do so through the Starlink website. They are required to enter their email and physical addresses. Depending on location, they could be eligible for a connection in the middle to later parts of this year.
So far, only interested parties in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. are eligible for pre-order signup. Starlink says the required $99 fee -- incidentally, the monthly price of the service -- is refundable, though ultimately receiving a connection is not guaranteed. Once a user's addresses are input, a payment page notes that orders are being taken on a first come/first served basis.
Starlink is yet another space-themed venture in which Tesla (TSLA 6.44%) CEO and guiding light Elon Musk is involved. SpaceX has approval from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to deploy a "constellation" of 11,943 Starlink satellites in orbit for the project. These will deliver broadband internet service, promised with low latency (lag), around the world.
So far, slightly over 1,000 Starlink satellites have been launched into orbit. The beta program began in October, and according to the company it has more than 10,000 users. Those people were required to purchase a $499 "kit" to set up their access. This package includes a satellite dish and a WiFi router to channel the signal.
Unlike Tesla, Starlink -- as part of SpaceX -- is a privately held enterprise. But Musk, who brought Tesla to the stock market in 2010, said Starlink would ultimately be spun off and taken public. He has given few specifics on when this might occur, however.