Missing OceanGate submersible was using Starlink space-based internet on Titanic expedition

SpaceX offers maritime Starlink internet service for boaters. Until the submersible went underwater it was using Starlink to communicate with the surface vessel. If it did surface as designed, Starlink could be used to help find the vessel.

A missing submersible with five people on an expedition to the Titanic wreckage was using Starlink internet to communicate with the research ship before it went missing, according to the company operating the submersible OceanGate.

The multination search continues to find the 22-foot submersible that disappeared Sunday several hundred miles off the coast of Canada destined for the Titanic’s wreckage in the North Atlantic.

FOX News reports billionaire Hamish Harding, Titanic expert PH Nargeolet, OceanGate Expedition CEO Stockton Rush, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Sulaiman Dawood are on board.

OceanGate recently tweeted it had begun using Starlink internet to communicate with the ship and small submarine. 

"The wreck of the Titanic lies about 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. Without any cell towers in the middle of the ocean, we are relying on Starlink to provide the communications we require throughout this year’s 2023 Titanic Expedition," OceanGate Expeditions wrote.

Starlink service is provided by thousands of satellites launched by SpaceX, providing space-based internet. Because of its global access, the internet works even in remote areas, including Antarctica and remote Canada, where other internet providers might not reach. 

Starlink works for homes, businesses and, more recently, SpaceX started offering maritime Starlink service for boaters. One of the first vessels to test Starlink at sea was SpaceX's own "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, the ship used to land Falcon 9 rocket boosters in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida

Maritime Starlink starts at $2,500 for the equipment needed, and the internet is $250 a month, according to SpaceX.

Starlink won't work underwater, but OceanGate confirmed to FOX Weather it was using Starlink service to communicate with the submersible.

"The Titanic submarine is designed to automatically surface if it runs into trouble and maintains contact with the surface vessel via an internet connection powered by Elon Musk's Starlink system," OceanGate said.


Scripps Institution of Oceanography research oceanographer Jules Jaffe, who was a member of the team that found the wreckage of the Titanic in the 1980s, told FOX Weather the best-case scenario is that the submersible surfaced to the top of the water. 

"We really have no idea where that submarine is," Jaffe said. "I really have no idea how we're going to find it if it's not on the surface."

If it did surface as designed, Starlink could be used to help find the vessel.

"The worst place it could be is sitting on the sea floor," Jaffe said.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the submersible was reported missing on Sunday after it did not return to the Canadian Research Vessel POLAR PRINCE.

About 1 hour and 45 minutes into the submarine's dive, communication was lost between the POLAR PRINCE and the submersible.

According to OceanGate, the submersible can provide life support for 96 hours. Time is running out in the search for the research submarine and its crew.