SpaceX invested over $70 million in Starlink Production

by Evelyn Arevalo August 09, 2020

SpaceX invested over $70 million in Starlink Production

Featured Image Source: SpaceX / Federal Communications Commission 

SpaceX is deploying internet-beaming Starlink satellites for its broadband network that will offer service across the globe. Starlink will provide revenue for the company’s space program that includes building a fleet of Starships to colonize Mars. To date, the aerospace company has deployed around 595 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit out of over 12,000 it aims to deploy. SpaceX currently operates the world’s largest broadband satellite constellation in orbit. Customers will receive the satellites’ signal via 19-inch user dish terminals. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted SpaceX the operation of 1 million dish terminals in the United States. SpaceX recently submitted a new request with the FCC, seeking to increase the number of Starlink user terminals and Wi-Fi routers to 5 million. “SpaceX Services requests this increase in authorized units due to the extraordinary demand for access to the Starlink non-geostationary orbit satellite system,” the company wrote to the FCC. Early last month, SpaceX asked potential customers to submit their e-mail to receive updates of when the service will be available in their area. “Despite the fact that SpaceX has yet to formally advertise this system’s services, nearly 700,000 individuals represented in all 50 states signed up over a matter of just days to register their interest. To ensure that SpaceX is able to accommodate the apparent demand for its broadband Internet access service, SpaceX Services requests a substantial increase in the number of authorized units,” the company stated.

Information was released regarding a presentation SpaceX held with the FCC in July, which details SpaceX “invested over $70 million developing and producing thousands of consumer user terminals per month” and “high-rate production soon to come.” The presentation slides also detail that the company is “now building 120 satellites per month.” 

According to the FCC presentation slide, shown above, 500 Starlink satellites in orbit use 12 GHz frequencies, which is a frequency related to 5G connection. The Multichannel Video and Data Distribution Service (MVDDS) Coalition, voiced concerns over Starlink’s 'potential' of interfering with terrestrial 5G networks, to which SpaceX officials stated before Commission representatives that it will not affect terrestrial coverage, even when the satellites operate at lower altitudes. SpaceX filed for permission to operate the satellite constellation at 540 - 570 kilometers instead of 1,110 - 1,325 kilometers above Earth, arguing that the change to operate at a lower altitude will significantly improve the satellites broadband internet latency. SpaceX officials previously said they are targeting to offer low-latency connectivity at 20ms, and eventually 10ms. The company also states that lowering the satellites operational altitude below 600-kilometers is beneficial to “improve space safety, as satellites under 600 km deorbit very rapidly, minimizing the risk for potential debris.”

Source: SpaceX FCC Presentation

The company already received authorization from the FCC to offer Starlink in several U.S. states before this year ends. The presentation slides to the Commission also revealed that SpaceX – “Begun beta service for hundreds of users in multiple states, including tribal communities.” Recently, SpaceX Vice-President of Starlink and Commercial Sales Jonathan Hofeller, revealed the company already initiated Starlink private beta testing. He told reporters the Starlink Terminal is already installed in his home. “I have deployed one on my house, it’s very exciting to get one. The instructions are super-easy. You plug it in, and you point it at the sky, and a few seconds later you have internet. It’s truly remarkable,” he shared.




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