SpaceX, a private rocket company behind Starlink, a network of thousands of satellites in low orbit designed to provide high-speed internet to people in remote areas, has struck a deal with Royal Caribbean to improve its passengers’ connectivity.
The move promises to be a game-changer for the cruise industry, whose famously weak internet when sailing on the open sea is becoming a major liability in a world where people expect to be connected 24/7.
SpaceX is led by Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, while the Liberia-registered and Miami, Florida-operated Royal Caribbean is the world’s second largest cruise line operator.
The spaceflight company recently made local headlines when a Maltese delegation met with its representatives as part of its consultation for the Malta Space Act, which shall be published next year.
The meeting, delegation head Parliamentary Secretary Keith Azzopardi Tanti said, also served as an opportunity to strengthen Malta’s strategic relationship with SpaceX with an intent to further widen the country’s connectivity options.
Both Royal Caribbean and Malta stand to benefit from the cable-less Starlink system.
Jason Liberty, CEO of the cruise operator, said the partnership, which marks the biggest public deployment of Starlink’s high-speed internet in the travel industry so far, will “enable more high-bandwidth activities like video streaming”.
Starlink connectors will start to be installed on Royal Caribbean ships immediately in a process due to be complete by March 2023.
Meanwhile, Maltese stakeholders are hoping that the country’s “geographical position, crop of varied world-class FDI and respected academia, provide Malta with a solid proposition in approaching specific niches within the space industry”.
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