SpaceX, Indonesia Partner to Launch Powerful High-Speed Internet Satellite

SpaceX launched the SATRIA-1 satellite alongside the Indonesian government. The move will bring reliable, high-speed internet access to remote areas of the country, closing the connectivity gap.

SpaceX recently teamed up with Indonesia to launch the country’s largest telecommunication satellite. The launch aims to bring roughly 150,000 public access points online and bring reliable internet to the furthest reaches of the island nation.  

This is the latest example of modern satellite internet, and the newfound ease of launching telecommunications satellites into orbit thanks to companies like SpaceX, making a positive societal impact. It is one of a series of launches meant to improve internet access across the nation of more than 6,000 populated islands.  

The public-private partnership between the Indonesian government and the country’s largest satellite service provider, PT Satelit Nusantara Tiga, could be a model for future launches to provide internet access in other remote countries.  

Powerful Hardware in Orbit

The importance of the internet in today’s society cannot be understated. Entertainment, business, and finances are all handled online. So, when as much as a third of a country’s population can’t access the internet, growth is difficult. This is the reality millions of people in remote regions of Indonesia face since they can’t be reached with traditional fiber optic connections.  

Fortunately, satellite internet has improved drastically in the past decade. Efforts from private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Starlink have transformed a subpar method of accessing the internet into an exciting one. As satellite technology continues to improve, the prospect of satellite internet is growing more attractive.  

Currently, just two-thirds of Indonesia’s 280 million residents have access to the internet. But many who do often have sporadic, unreliable access at best. The latest satellite effort aims to strengthen connectivity for existing internet users while also expanding access to the remaining population.  

The Satellite of the Republic of Indonesia (SATRIA-1) weighs 4.5 tons and features a massive throughput capacity of 150 gigabytes per second. This is three times the capacity of the country’s current satellites. The elevated throughput allows SATRIA-1 to deliver high-speed internet access to over 150,000 access points across the country.  

The satellite was constructed by Thales Alenia Space in France and journeyed to orbit on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket originating from the company’s launchpad in Florida. SpaceX successfully landed the spent booster on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean shortly after the launch—the twelfth such feat for this particular booster. SATRIA-1 is designed to last at least 15 years.  

For now, the island nation is eagerly awaiting its services. The satellite will become fully operational in 2024. In the meantime, the satellite’s ion engines will carefully place it into its final orbital position at 146 degrees east longitude over Indonesia’s eastern Papua region. There, it will orbit in tandem with the Earth, fixing it in place when viewed from land. This negates the need for complex hardware and means a connection can be established with a stationary antenna.

Closing the Digital Gap

Though not often in the spotlight, Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world. So getting its residents online is no small feat. SATRIA-1, costing a total of $540 million, instantly boosts Indonesia’s internet availability.  

In a statement, senior Indonesian minister Mahfud MD said, “Satellite technology will accelerate internet access to villages in areas that cannot be reached by fiber optics in the next 10 years.”  

Though that timeline seems lengthy, it is far more optimistic than the prospect of getting fiber optic cables to those locations—a feat that can’t be achieved due to the nation’s geography.  

Hospitals, schools, and public and government facilities alike will benefit from the high-speed internet access SATRIA-1 provides.  

Adi Rahman Adiwoso, CEO of PSN, said in a statement to SpaceTechAsia, “We are confident that SATRIA can be the solution to the digital gap that still exists in Indonesia.

Getting the satellite into orbit was no easy task. Its construction was reportedly delayed several times, both by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russa-Ukraine war. But now, as one of the most powerful telecommunications satellites in the sky, SATRIA-1 brings a promise of connectivity and fresh hope to the people of Indonesia.

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