SpaceX to remedy overheating antennas
June 23, 2021
Heatwaves across certain US states have thrown up problems with SpaceX’s Starlink broadband by satellite system. Reportedly, Starlink’s pizza-sized antennas are over-heating under the summer sun and closing down.
Meanwhile, Starlink OTT Gwynne Shotwell says that its global service will be in place by around September.
As to the temperature problem, Starlink was exacerbated in Arizona last week when the thermometer topped 120 degrees Fahrenheit and generated a message for its users saying that the dish “overheated” and that it went offline due to a “Thermal Shutdown”, adding “Starlink will reconnect after cooling down.”
This is not unusual for any device that has complex electronics within it. And Starlink is rated to work from 22 degree F up to 104 degrees F.
Reportedly, a SpaceX customer service rep told a subscriber that technicians were working on a fix.
Meanwhile, some users suffering shut-downs – and providing they can easily access their dishes – sprayed the antenna with cooling water. The results are evidently immediate, and connectivity resumed at least until the heat rises again.
The generally accepted advice is to get the dish as high as possible from the ground (or the roof, where there is latent heat) but also out of the sun.
However, Ken Keiter, an engineer who deconstructed a SpaceX dish, says that a software upgrade could help, but hardware revision might be needed prior to SpaceX’s full commercial launch.