Elon Musk Says SpaceX Has Had 'Promising Conversations' With Apple About iPhone Satellite Service
The comments came a day after Apple announced Emergency SOS via Satellite, which will allow iPhone 14 users to ping emergency services using satellite networks in areas without standard cellular reception. For the service, Apple partnered with Globalstar Inc. to power the satellite infrastructure, the network provider said in a regulatory filing Wednesday.
Last month, Musk's SpaceX and U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile preempted Apple's long-anticipated announcement by revealing that phone users on T-Mobile's network would be able to tap into SpaceX satellites to send text messages in areas without cellular connectivity. The collaboration is dependent on SpaceX launching an upgraded version of its Starlink satellites, known as Version 2.
That partnership, which won't launch until the end of next year at the earliest, will differ from Apple's feature in that it will allow for communication between consumers. Apple's short length satellite texting service is only designed to message emergency responders, the company said Wednesday.
[...] Apple's feature is set to launch in November and will be free for two years. The company didn't say how much it would cost after that initial period. Apple is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into Globalstar's satellite infrastructure, the company said. The T-Mobile and Starlink feature will be free.
Elon Musk Hints at Potential Apple–Spacex Partnership for iPhone 14 Satellite Feature
The billionaire entrepreneur said on Twitter Thursday that the iPhone team is obviously "super smart."
"For sure, closing link from space to phone will work best if phone software & hardware adapt to space-based signals vs Starlink purely emulating cell tower," said Musk.
At the event, Musk said that SpaceX's Starlink's second-generation satellites would be able to "broadcast direct to cell phones."
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The prototype of a new constellation of extremely bright Earth-orbiting satellites is due to launch in early- to mid-September. The AST SpaceMobile company plans to orbit more than 100 of these spacecraft by the end of 2024. Astronomers at the Vera Rubin Observatory and the International Astronomical Union's Centre for the Protection of Dark and Quiet Skies from Satellite Constellation Interference (IAU CPS) are concerned because these new spacecraft will interfere with celestial observations, adding to the problems already caused by other constellations.
The first member of this new group, called BlueWalker 3, will feature a giant antenna array covering an area of 64 square meters (689 square feet). Observers on the ground will see bright sunlight reflected from this structure. After on-orbit tests of BlueWalker 3 are completed, the operational satellites, called BlueBirds, will be launched. BlueBirds may produce even more glaring light pollution since they are significantly larger. The commercial appeal of these satellites is that they will link directly to cell phones without the need of a cell tower. AST SpaceMobile has already secured a license from the Federal Communications Commission to test the prototype.
[...] Other bright satellites are waiting in the wings: 30,000 second-generation Starlink satellites are currently awaiting FCC approval. Like the BlueBirds, the new Starlinks may carry antennas for direct connection to cell phones; the antennas are slightly smaller at "only" 25 square meters, but the satellites would be far more numerous than the BlueBird constellation. That development would be very bad news for astronomy.