SpaceX Launches 54 Upgraded Starlink Internet Satellites, Completes 60th Mission of the Year, First Generation 2 Versions of SpaceX Fleet


SpaceX launched the first batch of a new generation of Starlink satellites into orbit on December 28 and made a successful rocket landing at sea to mark a record 60th flight of the year. A Falcon 9 rocket topped with 54 upgraded Starlink Internet satellites — the first Generation 2 (Gen2) versions of the SpaceX fleet — lit up the predawn sky with a soft launch at 4:34 from the Cape Canaveral space station in 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, a SpaceX production and engineering manager, said during the interview. live commentary of the launch. Ultimately, this allows us to add more customers and provide faster service, especially in areas that are currently oversubscribed.

About eight minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9’s first stage returned to Earth and landed 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 in 2022, nearly doubling the 31 launches set as SpaceX’s record in 2021.

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

The company will also try to salvage the two halves of the payload carnage that made up the Falcon 9’s nose cone, both previously flown, for reuse later, 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 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 problems 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 primary 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 claimed that the new dense constellation proposed under the Gen2 system, which will 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-speed, low-latency broadband services.

Median Starlink download speeds fell between Q1 and Q2 of 2022

In September, we reported that Starlink’s median download speeds had 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 from their initial launches, the recently announced partnership between T-Mobile and Starlink could extend the benefits of satellite connectivity to the mobile market,” says Ookla.

Speedtest Intelligence reveals that median Starlink download speeds have dropped in Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, the UK and the US by between 9% and 54% between the second quarter of 2021 and the second quarter of 2022, due to the increase in the number of users who subscribe to the service.

However, Starlink still achieved a median download speed of at least 60 Mbps in North America during the second quarter of 2022, which is more than enough for at least one connected device to do almost anything. is possible over the Internet, including streaming videos, downloading games and video chatting with friends and family.

Starlink may start restricting home internet access if the user exceeds more than 1 TB of monthly priority access data usage. This change will take effect in December to reduce network congestion. Starlink residential users must pay $0.25 for each additional GB used.

SpaceX revealed this on November 4 when it released what it called: the Fair Use Policy. The document states that subscribers to Starlink’s residential offering in the US will receive 1 TB of priority 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 largest number of people through our high-speed Internet, we must manage the network to balance Starlink supply and user demand,” Starlink said.

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 often and deliver more mass each launch. This would open the door for Starlink rockets to carry additional payloads alongside Starlink Gen2 satellites, SpaceX said.

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

Massive LEO constellation

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

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

On December 1, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved SpaceX to launch 7,500 Gen2 satellites. However, this was only a partial approval as SpaceX 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 service directly to smartphones, said Elon Musk, who is also the founder of SpaceX.

SpaceX’s satellite Internet service, Starlink, will soon be available on select aircraft, and Starlink Aviation will officially launch next year, the company has announced. It says the service will deliver internet speeds of up to 350Mbps to every aircraft equipped with its Aero Terminal. According to the company, with a latency of only 20ms, passengers can participate in activities that were previously not functional during the flight, including 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 in-flight 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 that is installed on the outside of the aircraft as shown below. Starlink’s low profile Aero Terminal features an electronically powered phased array antenna, which enables new levels of reliability, redundancy and performance, the company explains.

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Also see:

Starlink sets a ceiling for broadband data consumption of 1 TB per month, private Starlink users must 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 of up to 350 Mbps

Speed ​​tests show that Starlink becomes much slower as users use it, median download speeds dropped from 90.6 Mbps to 62.5 Mbps

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