SpaceX Starlink beta test will continue into next year

SpaceX recently announced that it would continue beta testing its Starlink broadband Internet service into 2021. The announcement highlights a delay as the service was previously planned to roll out in 2020. It's unclear exactly when, in 2021, the service will exit beta. As close as we have to a date at this point comes from a SpaceX engineer named Kate Tice, who said that the company plans to expand its beta testing early next year.

According to Tice, the company will expand in a "notable way" in early 2021, specifying a timeframe of late January into early February. It's unclear how long after that expanded beta test it might take before the service is ready for everyone. Space X has been pushing hard to get more Starlink satellites into orbit.

On November 24, SpaceX put 60 new satellites into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. That mission was also notable because it marked the seventh launch for the Falcon 9 first stage used. There are plenty of videos online that show early beta testers installing the hardware and testing speeds offered in some parts of the US by the Starlink service.

Those beta testers have paid $499 for the Starlink hardware and $99 a month. Users have reported speeds as high as 100 Mbps and upload speeds and ping times plenty fast enough for video streaming and online gaming. Eventually, Starlink will offer broadband service globally. The last time we heard from SpaceX, it intended to launch the service in India by the middle of 2021.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk sees the broadband Internet service as a way to fund other SpaceX missions in space. The service also aims to connect parts of the world that are underserved or unserved by broadband Internet access.