A remote Native American tribe is enjoying high-speed internet for the first time thanks to Elon Musk's Starlink. You can see how here:
The SpaceX founder is aiming to spread rapid broadband across the globe with the Starlink satellite network, and the Hoh Tribe in Washington State are among the first to benefit.
Melvinjohn Ashue, vice chairman of the tribe, said: "We're very remote. The last eight years I felt like we've been paddling up river with a spoon and almost getting nowhere with getting internet to the reservation.
"It seemed like out of nowhere, SpaceX came up and just catapulted us into the 21st century."
The tribe subsequently thanked SpaceX on Twitter, and Musk replied: "You're most welcome!"
What a difference high-speed internet can make! Our children can participate in remote learning, residents can access #healthcare. We felt like we'd been paddling up-river with a spoon on this. @SpaceX Starlink made it happen overnight. Thanks @WAStateCommerce for introduction.
- Hoh Tribe (@TribeHoh) October 7, 2020
There are currently almost 800 Starlink satellites in orbit, though the plan is to continue to rapidly expand this network to 12,000.
Starlink's mission statement reads: "With performance that far surpasses that of traditional satellite internet, and a global network unbounded by ground infrastructure limitations, Starlink will deliver high speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive or completely unavailable.
"Starlink is targeting service in the Northern US and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021."
The Hoh Tribe and Starlink were hooked up by the Washington State Department of Commerce, which said the collaboration demonstrated what can be achieved through teamwork.
Posting on social media, the department said: "How is this for a creative partnership? SpaceX and Hoh Tribe prove we can overcome the digital divide.
"This is one example of projects we're working on to bring high-speed internet access to everyone in Washington state. Working together we can make it happen!"
While Starlink has clearly been of huge benefit to the Hoh Tribe, it has been widely criticised by astronomers, who warn the bright satellites interfere with observations and impede scientific progress.
A report published by Satellite Constellations 1 (SATCON1) workshop in August stated: "We find that the worst-case constellation designs prove extremely impactful to the most severely affected science programs."
It continued: "Most astronomical researchers and institutions are only now, a little over a year after the first tranche of 60 Starlink satellites were launched, coming to appreciate fully the magnitude and complexity of the problem."
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