SpaceX is building the Starlink satellite constellation in low Earth orbit to beam internet globally. To date, the company operates roughly 960 satellites out of over 4,000 it plans to deploy. A Starlink Beta test program is active in portions of northern United States and Canada. By 2021, SpaceX aims to provide internet coverage worldwide, primarily in areas on Earth where broadband connection is limited and completely unavailable. Starlink customers receive internet via a phased-array antenna dish that SpaceX nicknamed “Dishy McFlatface.” Because the constellation is not as large to have the capacity to service many customers, SpaceX is selecting its customers by location until more satellites are deployed. SpaceX plans to begin offering beta service to more customers in late-January. You can sign-up via Starlink.com to get informed when the service is available in your city.
A YouTuber named [Kenneth] Ken Keiter was lucky enough to be selected as a Starlink beta tester, he bought the Starlink Kit - priced at $499 USD - and decided to destroy it! The Starlink Kit includes a pizza-sized dish terminal, a Wi-Fi router device, also a power unit and mounting equipment. Keiter uploaded a video called ‘Starlink Teardown: Dishy Destroyed’ in which he offers a glimpse of SpaceX’s phased array dish antenna interior design and technology. –“I have sacrificed Starlink dish, also known as Dishy, to the teardown Gods. So that you could be the first to see what’s inside and get an idea of how it works,” he said with excitement. In the video Keiter dismantled Dishy McFlatface entirely! SpaceX says the dish terminal features technology more advanced than what is on fighter jets. Dishy is capable of searching for the satellites upon installation; Keiter unveiled the small set of motors that enable the dish to orient itself to find an optimal view of the sky.
SpaceX engineers recently shared how the antenna dish is capable of locating the satellites in orbit-- "The Starlink actually has no knowledge of the satellites when it powers on; the constellation is updating all the time so this would be difficult to keep up to date," they said, "The Starlink is able to electronically scan the sky in a matter of milliseconds and lock into the satellite overhead, even though its travelling 17,500 mph overhead. When it detects a satellite the Starlink hones in on its position and makes a request to join the internet. After that, the dish is able to download a schedule of which satellites to talk to next and with that, it can point right at the satellites when the time comes," the engineers shared via Reddit.
During the hour-long video, Keiter takes apart the antenna piece by piece explaining what some of the parts are used for, until he reveals the slim antenna array. Keiter demonstrates all the components of the dish terminal, you can watch his YouTube video linked below.
STARLINK TEARDOWN: DISHY DESTROYED!
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.