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After improving user antennas, SpaceX launches Starlink satellites

In its very first dedicated deployment for broadband constellation in about two months, SpaceX successfully launched another 53 Starlink satellites on 13th November. A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the recent set of Starlink satellites blast off from the Cape Canaveral base, Florida, at 7:19 a.m. Eastern, one day after the launch was canceled due to bad weather. According to SpaceX, all of the satellites were successfully launched to low Earth orbit (LEO), where they are going to join the remainder of the Starlink constellation.

After completing its ninth flight, the Falcon 9’s reusable first stage landed on SpaceX’s drone ship. The rocket was also used to launch SpaceX’s ANASIS-11, Crew Demo-2, CRS-21, and Transporter-1 flights, in addition to four previous Starlink missions. SpaceX’s most recent mission was the 25th Falcon 9 rocket launch in 2021. For the constantly increasing Starlink constellation, many of these flights have launched Starlink broadband satellites.

SpaceX has launched over 1,800 Starlink spacecraft so far in order to expand global coverage. The very last dedicated Starlink deployment mission, which placed 51 satellites in the polar orbit, took out from Vandenberg Space Force Base situated in California on 13th September.

As per a presentation SpaceX submitted with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on November 10, Starlink is servicing around 140,000 people in 20 countries, up from 40,000 in August. It claimed to have received upwards of 750,000 “orders/deposits” for the service around the world.

However, pandemic-linked silicon shortages have slowed production and hampered the company’s ability to meet orders. Antennas have been a big topic of contention for the firm, which extensively subsidizes them in order to stimulate adoption.

The FCC passed a new Starlink antenna on November 10 that SpaceX claims will be less expensive to construct, though consumers will still have to pay $499 for the hardware required to connect to Starlink’s services. In addition to being smaller and lighter than the circular predecessor, the newest rectangular dish is also more durable.

For more than a year, Starlink’s beta testers have been utilizing a 23-inch-wide, circular user terminal weighing 16-pound, where internet services are accessible. They can now get a dish which is 12 inches wide by 19 inches long and weighs 16 pounds. Even though the newest Starlink antenna remains larger than Amazon’s design, the 12-inch breadth matches the antennas’ diameter that Amazon is constructing for its projected Project Kuiper constellation.

Project Kuiper, on the other hand, is still a long way behind Starlink’s operational deployment. Amazon announced on November 1 that by fourth quarter of the year 2022, it aims to deploy two Project Kuiper prototype spacecraft for testing. Elon Musk, the Chief Executive Officer of SpaceX company, said at the Mobile World Congress on June 29 that building antennas cost more than $1000 and that the company intends to lower that to approximately $250 or $300.

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