SpaceX could soon start to manufacture next-generation Starlink satellites

SpaceX could soon start to manufacture next-generation Starlink satellites

Featured Image Source: @ErcXspace via Twitter 

SpaceX is deploying Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit on a monthly basis. The company says Starlink will become ‘the world’s most advanced broadband internet system’ capable of providing service to countries globally. To date, SpaceX’s fleet of flight-proven Falcon 9 rockets have deployed approximately 1,025 Starlink satellites over the course of eighteen missions. The satellites transmit their signal from four phased array radio antennas. This flat type of antenna can transmit in multiple directions and frequencies without moving. Starlink will beam data over Earth's surface at the speed of light, bypassing the limitations of of our current internet infrastructure.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared that 10 Starlink satellites that were deployed to Polar orbit on January 24 feature ‘laser links.’ –“These also have laser links between the satellites, so no ground stations are needed over the poles,” he said. “All sats [satellites] launched next year will have laser links. Only our polar sats have lasers this year & are [version] v0.9,” Musk shared. The lasers will enable the Starlink satellites to communicate with one another, as well as the customer’s user dish antenna, without the need for ground stations. The inter-satellite links will enable the allocation of broadband resources in real time, placing capacity where its most on demand, and direct signal away from areas where it might cause interference to other systems.

SpaceX could soon start to manufacture next-generation Starlink satellites, according to a job application that was recently posted on the company’s career page. The company is seeking a Lead Software Engineer to work on Starlink hardware. They will be tasked with directly managing “hardware test software engineers responsible for development of systems and software to automate manufacturing test of Starlink PCBAs and electromechanical components” and “lead test software roadmap for Starlink v1.5 and v2.0 production,” the job application reads, pictured below. These Starlink satellites will be equipped with laser links and launch no earlier than 2022. The company says it is “manufacturing 120 Starlink satellites each month, with spectrum efficient phased array antennas and safe space operations” at a SpaceX satellite factory located in Redmond, Washington.

SpaceX already started to provide broadband internet service to select customers living in Northern United States, Canada, and United Kingdom. Customers receive internet connection from the satellites in orbit via a dish antenna and Wi-Fi router device that cost $499 USD. The monthly service fee is $99 USD, SpaceX says Starlink has ‘no contracts, no early termination fees, and no data caps.’ "During beta, users can expect to see data speeds vary from 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s [megabits per second] and latency from 20ms to 40ms [milliseconds] in most locations over the next several months as we enhance the Starlink system," the company's website states, "There will also be brief periods of no connectivity at all. As we launch more satellites, install more ground stations and improve our networking software, data speed, latency and uptime will improve dramatically." SpaceX recently told the Federal Communications Commission that long-term it aims to increase the network’s capability to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps).

Featured Image Source: @ErcXspace via Twitter 

About the Author

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn Arevalo

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.

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