Do the latest (as of Jan 30, 2020) Starlink satellites use inter-satellite laser communications?

I can't find any info about that!

  • $\begingroup$ You think of a laser data link between two satellites in orbit or within the same satellite? $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Jan 30, 2020 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ related but different because I've asked there about the final configuration, not just about "the latest satellites": What technology will SpaceX's StarLink satellites most likely use for sat-to-sat linking? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 31, 2020 at 1:40
  • $\begingroup$ I don't see any reason to close this question; either they do or they don't, there's nothing to clarify. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 31, 2020 at 1:43

1 Answer 1


All I could find was here which led to a variety of articles which explain the technology in depth. Not that Wikipedia is always reliable, however it stated that:

The satellites will employ optical inter-satellite links and phased array beam-forming and digital processing technologies in the Ku and Ka bands, according to documents filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC).[86][87] While specifics of the phased array technologies have been disclosed as part of the frequency application, SpaceX enforced confidentiality regarding details of the optical inter-satellite links.[88] Early satellites are launched without laser links, in October 2019 SpaceX expected satellites with these links to be ready by the end of 2020.

In the additional links from the FCC technical document:

The system will also employ optical inter-satellite links for seamless network management and continuity of service, which will also aid in complying with emissions constraints designed to facilitate spectrum sharing with other systems.

So, to make a long answer short, there are no inter-communication abilities on the satellites which were already launched. It seems that the earlier satellites will not have this capability. The laser-links seem to be planned for this year.

86: Space Exploration Holdings, LLC (15 November 2016). "SPACEX NON-GEOSTATIONARY SATELLITE SYSTEM – ATTACHMENT A". FCC Space Station Applications. Retrieved 15 February 2018.

87: Space Exploration Holdings, LLC (15 November 2016). "SAT-LOA-20161115-00118". FCC Space Station Applications. Retrieved 15 February 2018.

88: Wiltshire, William M. (20 April 2017). "Re: Space Exploration Holdings, LLC, IBFS File No. SAT-LOA-20161115-00118". FCC Space Station Application. Retrieved 15 February 2018.

Documents are from the FCC licencing and are publicly available. After downloading the PDF files searching for "inter-satellite" gets to some relevant parts. Though these documents seem to lack time-line information on when this technology will be launching.


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