SpaceX to sell satellite laser links that speed in-space communication to rivals

By Joey Roulette

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -SpaceX has started selling satellite lasers, which are used for speedy in-space communications, to other satellite firms, company President Gwynne Shotwell said at a conference on Tuesday.

SpaceX’s thousands of Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit use inter-satellite laser links to pass data between one another in space at the speed of light, allowing the network to offer broader internet coverage around the world with fewer ground stations.

Shotwell, speaking on a panel at the Satellite industry conference in Washington, said SpaceX as a supplier will sell that technology to other companies.

“We’ll roll that out … with our new Polaris Dawn mission coming up here this summer on a Dragon capsule,” Shotwell said, referring to an upcoming private astronaut flight with the company’s Dragon space capsule.

Shotwell said the laser offering was called “Plug and Plaser,” suggesting the equipment could be easily installed by customers on their spacecraft.

Space companies have opted to sell spacecraft components to diversify revenue and shore up cash to fund bigger capital-intensive projects. SpaceX is developing and testing its next-generation Starship rocket, designed to be cheaper but far more powerful than its workhorse Falcon 9.

“We generally don’t sell components, so this is a little bit of a new thing for us,” Shotwell told Reuters after the panel discussion. She said SpaceX was already in talks with potential customers.

(Reporting by Joey Roulette; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot)