On Wednesday, November 10, SpaceX updated its Starlink.com website with photographs of a new Starlink antenna and Wi-Fi router design to connect to the satellite broadband internet network. The company's updated website suggests that the new devices are already available for pre-order. The first phased-array antenna design is circular, the new antenna design is rectangular. The previous Wi-Fi router was a geometric shaped device, the new one looks like a small square that features a graphic that SpaceX founder Elon Musk said is the "orbital transfer ellipse from Earth to Mars." The devices are expected to remain the same price as the original - $499 USD, plus a $99 per month internet subscription fee.
Pattern on the Starlink router is orbital transfer ellipse from Earth to Mars— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 11, 2021
This rectangular Starlink antenna could be the version company officials said would help the company scale up production and reduce manufacturing costs. Throughout Starlink's beta phase, SpaceX lost half of its investment with each Starlink dish antenna it sold, according to SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. She shared earlier this year that the circular phased-array dish antenna costs the company around $1,000 USD to manufacture and Starlink beta users purchased it for only $499 USD.
In September, SpaceX's Chief Financial Officer Bret Johnsen shared at the Satellite 2021 conference that the company is manufacturing approximately 5,000 user terminals per week and aimed to increase production to “multiples of that” with the new Starlink design. He said the rectangular antenna cuts manufacturing costs by half. The company has not shared any details about what technological features changed in the new antenna to make it more cost-effective.
Most technology companies faced challenges getting Silicon for their device production due to the Coronavirus pandemic that has affected many industries globally. Silicon is one of the main components in electronic chip production. “We had some supply chain constraints, just like everybody else related to consumer electronics, for the last few months on the current dish. We modified the bill of materials where we needed to such that we wouldn’t have those constraints when the new dish rolls out in the next couple months," Johnsen said in September. Even though the new antenna design is less expensive to produce, the cost for customers will remain the same. "We’re not passing on the cost reductions yet to our customers. We certainly hope to do that in the not-too-distant future," he said.
SpaceX operates approximately 1,740 Starlink satellites in Low Earth Orbit and is actively providing internet service to over 100,000 customers across the world. The company has over half-a-million pre-orders to fulfill across 16 countries. Over the last year, SpaceX made significant improvements to the network, customers are now experiencing high-speed internet access, with download speeds ranging between 100Mbps to 200Mbps (megabits per second). To see if the service is already available in your region visit Starlink.com.
All Featured Image Source: SpaceX Starlink.com