Starlink launches 53 satellites; square aerial
November 15, 2021
By Chris Forrester
SpaceX executed another flawless launch – and 1st stage landing – on November 13th, albeit delayed by 24 hours because of poor weather at Cape Canaveral. The Falcon 9 rocket (its first stage has now been used nine times) carried 53 extra Starlink satellites into space. The 1st stage landing on SpaceX’s ‘Just Read the Instructions’ floating barge, again in a text-book landing (and the 87th successful landing of the Falcon’s Stage 1 portion).
Meanwhile, SpaceX has also redesigned its satellite dish. The new version is square, and the installation now includes a greater variety of installation brackets to make roof mounting and fixing easier.
However, dishes and modems are still shipping in smaller volumes with production affected by the global shortage of chip-sets. The new installation kit includes a WiFi only router but an ethernet router for wired connections is available separately.
SpaceX CFO Bret Johnson said that the company was manufacturing around 5,000 Starlink dishes per week, which if maintained is an annual output of a quarter of a million user terminals a year.
The new dish costs roughly half the amount to build compared to the earlier model and is especially designed for harsh climate conditions with and can now operate in temperatures as low as -22° F (-30° C) and as high as 122° F (50° C) and is completely waterproof.
The new ‘squarial’ antenna is about half the weight of the earlier round dish. The new dish features a 3×3, MU-MIMO router that can transmit three separate bandwidth streams to three different devices in a home.
SpaceX says that users can expect download speeds of 200 Mb/s and latency as low as 20 milliseconds.
The US (including Alaska) and southern Canada now have excellent coverage, but Europe’s coverage is limited to the UK, France and the low countries, Germany, Poland and northern Spain and northern Italy. Eastern Australia and Western Australia have coverage as has New Zealand.
This latest launch takes the total orbited to 1,844, however some have failed or deliberately been de-orbited. Reportedly there are 1699 working Starlinks in orbit.