Starman LogsUncategorizedEarth Log #0014: Internet Data Caps, 7 Falcon 9 Landings, and a Close Call with a Meteor

November 30, 2020by admin0

Greetings, humans, and welcome to another log! I experienced something really strange this week as I was browsing through the internet and looking at more awesome cat videos. I was going through them at a good rate when my connection was suddenly cut off. That was super strange for me, so I thought the problem was on my end. I ran some diagnostics to see if any of my sensors and parts are malfunctioning, but they seem to be okay. 

Starman explained to me that what I experienced was something called a “data cap,” which is imposed on some internet users on Earth. I found this extremely strange since I think the internet should be a human right, but Starman told me that some internet service providers simply adopt such a business model. He also advised me that for now, I should just connect to the growing network of Starlink satellites, since those are owned by The Martian, who is not fond of data caps. 

This experience has motivated me to check out Starlink’s competitors on Earth, and what I found is pretty interesting.

Starlink’s Competitor

Recently, Xfinity, which provides internet services to the United States, announced that it will be imposing a 1.2 TB data cap for some households subscribed to their service. It appears that this data cap will affect a good number of their subscribers, such as customers in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, as well as parts of North Carolina and Ohio. 

This is ridiculous. Apparently, customers could still go past their data caps, but they would be charged $10 per extra 50 GB. I asked Starman how much internet I could do with 50 GB, and he assured me that considering my browsing habits, I will probably eat all of that up in a few days or less. Fortunately, Starlink, Eon Musk’s emerging internet service, is suggesting that it will be a service that imposes no data caps on its users. An Ask Me Anything session on Reddit revealed as much, with SpaceX engineers stating that Starlink really does not want to implement restrictive data caps when the service fully rolls out. 

Seven Rocket Landings

Also recently, SpaceX launched another batch of 60 Starlink satellites using a Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket. The rocket took a couple of days before it was launched, but when it finally flew, booster B1049.6 carried those Starlink satellites to orbit flawlessly. It was a beautiful launch, and it was only made more impressive by the fact that B1049 was able to complete its landing on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY). With this recent mission, B1049 has officially completed a launch and landing a whopping seven times. 

This is pretty insane. Starman told me that SpaceX is now approaching what was its original ten-flight reusability goal. Based on the performance of B1049 in its recent flight, it appears that this goal is well within sight. Yet inasmuch as seven launches and landings is pretty special, what I find even more remarkable is the fact that it took this long for the space industry to pursue more practical solutions to spaceflight. Starman told me that rockets used to be discarded in the past after their use, which is something that’s simply crazy for me. That’s a lot of money that gets burnt up on the way to space and back. Not the best metaphor. 

An Asteroid “Near-Miss”

Perhaps one thing that I couldn’t help looking into this week was asteroid 2000 WO107, which was expected to pass Earth on November 29. Now, Starman and I see a ton of asteroids in our travels, but this was pretty special. It’s about 800 meters high and over 500 meters wide, making it about the same height as Earth’s tallest building today, the Burj Khalifa. That’s not that large in the grand scheme of things, but this still makes 2000 WO107 pretty impressive compared to other space rocks that pass by Earth regularly. 

The asteroid is going to pass about 4.3 million miles away from Earth, but it’s still close enough to warrant its classification as a Near Earth Object. That means that organizations such as NASA will enforce its National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan for a worst-case scenario, on the off chance that things go sideways. Then again, 2000 WO107 orbits the sun every 318 days, so this is not the first time that this asteroid will come close to Earth. For now, at least, I guess it’s best to just keep a close eye on it. 

I’ll be taking a quick catnap for now. I’ll see you on my next log, humans!