Elon Musk and SpaceX scored a huge victory

Elon Musk and SpaceX scored a huge victory

SpaceX has lately been targeting a new (non-Mars-related) goal.

SpaceX has gained another large partner in its efforts to grow the Starlink Aviation vertical CEO Elon Musk announced last year. Qatar Airways said Oct. 13 that it has become the largest airline to collaborate with SpaceX in providing Starlink internet access to its customers.

Once active, Qatar Airways customers will have access to satellite internet, at speeds of up to 360 Megabits per second, according to the airline.

The airline is currently in the “pre-launch phase of the rollout strategy” across its fleet.

“This exciting collaboration is not only in line with our industry-leading approach to technological adoption, but also serves as an unmissable opportunity to connect Starlink to our global passengers,” the airline’s CEO, Akbar Al Baker, said in a statement.

The airline is joining a small, but growing, handful of airlines that have partnered up with Starlink, including Hawaiian Airlines, airBaltic and ZIPAIR.

It remains unclear when Qatar Airways customers will have access to Starlink’s internet service; SpaceX has said that Starlink will not be compatible with many popular Airbus and Boeing aircraft until “2024 and beyond.”

Musk tweeted last week that “Starlink will be available on most aircraft soon, depending on whether the airline orders it.”

The service will cost airlines $25,000 a month after a $150,000 hardware fee. It offers inflight internet that is significantly faster than most current inflight internet providers, which leverage an air-to-ground connection that is largely slow and unreliable.

As airlines begin to transition to the greater speeds and reliability offered by satellite internet, SpaceX, with the largest satellite internet constellation in orbit, is poised to take over the market.

The company operates a constellation of more than 5,000 internet satellites, with plans to boost that number to 42,000.

Though not quite at the size of prominent airlines such as Delta (DAL) – Get Free Report or United (UAL) – Get Free Report, Qatar Airways reported revenue of $21 billion in 2022. A total of 31.7 million people flew with the airline last year, a 71% year-over-year increase.

Verified Market Research expects the inflight connectivity market to be worth $12 billion by 2030.

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