SpaceX launches 54 upgraded Starlink internet satellites and completes its 60th mission of the year, 2 first generation versions of the SpaceX fleet


SpaceX launched the first batch of a new generation of Starlink satellites into orbit on Dec. 28 and made a successful rocket landing at sea to mark the year’s record-breaking 60th flight. A Falcon 9 rocket carrying 54 upgraded Starlink internet satellites – the first Generation 2 (Gen2) versions of the SpaceX fleet – lit up the pre-dawn skies with a soft launch at 4:34 am from the space station in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

“Under our new license, we are now able to deploy satellites into new orbits that will add even more capacity to the network,” Jesse Anderson, SpaceX Production and Engineering Manager, said during the interview. Ultimately, this allows us to add more customers and provide faster service, especially in oversubscribed areas.

About eight minutes after liftoff, Falcon 9’s first stage returned to Earth, landing on SpaceX’s drone ship, A Shortfall of Gravitas, in the Atlantic Ocean, where harsh weather conditions threatened to delay the launch. The landing marks the successful completion of SpaceX’s 60th launch of 2022, nearly doubling the 31 launches set as SpaceX’s 2021 record.

The Falcon 9 first stage of this mission completed its 11th flight with Wednesday’s launch. The booster has previously flown on five Starlink missions, launched two US GPS satellites, the commercial Nilesat 301 satellite, and carried two different teams of private astronauts on the Inspiration4 and Ax-1 missions, SpaceX said.

The company will also try to save the two halves of carnage that made up the Falcon 9’s nose cone, both of which had previously flown, for later reuse, Anderson said.

Starlink Gen2

SpaceX is moving forward with a new generation of Starlink broadband satellites that will be slightly heavier but more powerful than the first generation satellites that are currently in orbit.

SpaceX’s Starlink Gen2 is said to be more powerful than the roughly 3,300 satellites currently in orbit, and it looks like SpaceX needs a boost in bandwidth. The broadband network is facing congestion issues despite sending hundreds of first-generation Starlink satellites into orbit this year, according to a recent SpaceNews report.

Starlink is a constellation of internet satellites designed and manufactured by SpaceX to provide high-speed, low-latency internet access to people living in remote and rural locations around the world, Anderson said. SpaceX has indicated that it also intends to use its new Starship rocket as the main delivery vehicle for its new satellites. Gen2 System, in addition to the use of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets. Starship is SpaceX’s most massive and reusable heavy launch vehicle.

SpaceX argued that the proposed new dense constellation under the Gen2 system, which would include the launch of nearly 30,000 satellites, would significantly increase capacity and increase the number of users in rural and remote areas who would have truly stable broadband access.

SpaceX emphasized that the Gen2 system will not require additional spectral resources as it will continue to use a mix of Ku-band, Ka-band and E-band frequencies. Complementing the first-generation system, Gen2 will continue to focus on providing high-bandwidth services high speed and low latency.

Starlink median download speeds dropped between Q1 and Q2 2022

In September, we reported that Starlink average download speeds dropped from 90.6 Mbps to 62.5 Mbps between the first and second quarters of 2022, according to Ookla speed tests. We’ve seen Starlink launch in new locations around the world, and while some speeds have shown signs of slowing down from initial launches, the recently announced partnership between T-Mobile and Starlink could extend the benefits of satellite connections. ” says Okla.

Speedtest Intelligence reveals that average Starlink download speeds have declined in Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, with a drop of between 9% and 54% between Q2 2021 and Q2 2022, due to the increase in the number of users subscribing to the service.

However, Starlink still achieved an average download speed of at least 60 Mbps in North America during Q2 2022, which is more than enough for at least one connected device to do almost anything. download games and video chat with friends and family.

Starlink may begin throttling home Internet access if the user exceeds more than 1TB monthly priority access data usage. This change will take effect in December in order to reduce network congestion. Starlink home users will be charged $0.25 for each additional GB used.

SpaceX revealed this on Nov. 4 when it released what it called its Fair Use Policy. The document indicates that subscribers to Starlink’s residential offer in the United States will receive 1TB of preferred access per month. The company has also published the same usage policy in Canada. Starlink is a finite resource that will continue to grow as we launch additional satellites. “To serve the most people through our high-speed internet, we must manage the network to balance Starlink supply with user demand,” said Starlink.

Using Starship rockets to deliver the Gen2 satellites will allow SpaceX to send more satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) at once, launch them more frequently, and deliver more mass with each launch. This would open the door for Starlink rockets to accommodate additional payloads alongside Starlink Gen2 satellites, SpaceX said.

This Gen2 system is designed to complement the first-generation constellation that SpaceX is currently deploying, SpaceX said in the filing, which is seeking FCC approval. While the original constellation provided unprecedented capacity for a satellite system, the demand for more bandwidth continues to grow relentlessly and users’ need for connectivity has never been greater.

Leo Massive Constellation

SpaceX offers several configurations for the Gen2, including one with nine LEO altitudes ranging from 340 to 614 kilometers. Under an earlier proposal, Starlink would have launched its satellites at eight altitudes, ranging from 328 to 614 kilometers, notes CNBC. SpaceX’s revised plan also aims to nearly double the number of satellites deployed in sun-synchronous orbit, which will allow it to improve service in polar regions like Alaska.

SpaceX has launched around 1,740 first-generation Starlink satellites serving more than 90,000 users. SpaceX envisions a constellation of nearly 30,000 Gen2 satellites, arguing that using multiple inclinations would distribute capacity more evenly based on latitude, providing better and more consistent global coverage.

On December 1, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized SpaceX to deploy 7,500 Gen2 satellites. However, this was only a partial approval, as SpaceX has applied to the FCC for permission to send nearly 30,000 of these satellites into low Earth orbit.
In addition to their ability to handle more traffic, Gen2 satellites can provide services directly to smartphones, said Elon Musk, who is also the founder of SpaceX.

SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service will soon be available on select aircraft with the official launch of Starlink Aviation next year, the company announced. He says the service will provide internet speeds of up to 350 Mbps for every aircraft equipped with its Aero Terminal. According to the company With a latency of just 20 ms, passengers can perform activities that were previously not functional during the flight, such as video calls, online games, virtual private networks and other activities that require high throughput.

On October 18, SpaceX introduced its Starlink Aviation service for high-speed, low-latency inflight internet with worldwide connectivity. The hardware needed to access the Starlink satellite constellation is a new phased array antenna designed specifically for aircraft called the Aero Terminal. It looks like a flat square panel installed on the outside of the aircraft as shown below. Starlink’s low-profile Aero Terminal features an electronically driven phased array antenna, which enables new levels of reliability, redundancy and performance, explains the company.

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See too:

Starlink sets a broadband data usage limit of 1TB per month, Starlink home users will have to pay $0.25 for each additional GB used

Starlink Aviation: SpaceX satellite internet service coming to select planes next year, hardware kit costs $150,000 and SpaceX promises speeds up to 350 Mbps

Speed ​​tests show that Starlink is getting much slower as users use it, average download speeds have dropped from 90.6 Mbps to 62.5 Mbps

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