FCC gives SpaceX approval to test next-generation Starlink user terminal designs

FCC gives SpaceX approval to test next-generation Starlink user terminal designs

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted SpaceX a temporary license to test next-generation Starlink user terminal hardware. This is expected to involve new antenna designs for the Starlink Gen2 System, which is the company’s second-generation satellites that will increase network coverage and enhance capabilities. The FCC license SpaceX received allows SpaceX to test the new hardware in Los Angeles; Mountain View, California; Redmond, Washington; Riverton, Wyoming; and Cape Canaveral, Florida.  

“The testing will involve up to 200 total user terminals, including a combination of fixed devices and ESIMs (which may include a combination of earth stations on vehicles, vessels, and aircraft) to be operated exclusively by SpaceX personnel,” wrote the company in the filing to the FCC. “This testing will allow SpaceX to characterize the performance of these user terminals under a wide range of conditions and to measure RF [radio frequency] density of emissions from these user terminals. The earth station terminals requested will enable SpaceX to fully evaluate the operational characteristics of these terminals under conditions that resemble the initial commercial rollout of these devices to the greatest possible extent,” the company said. 

SpaceX said that it “intends to test multiple potential user terminal configurations” but all will use the same radio frequencies approved by the FCC; designed to receive downloads and uploads over the 10.7GHz to 12.7GHZ and 14GHz radio bands (detailed in the table below). The statement suggests that some of the 200 Starlink user terminals will be different design models that they will test to determine which designs are best to release to the market. These user terminals will have dimensions “not to exceed 0.586 by 0.385 meters” in size, which is equivalent to 23 inches by 15.1 inches. 

SpaceX already operates the world's largest broadband constellation with around 3,600 Starlink satellites in Low Earth Orbit and provides internet to over one million customers globally. The company has FCC approval to launch 7,500 Starlink Gen2 satellites in the coming years to build a robust network. 

Table Source: SpaceX's filing to the FCC.

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Featured Image Source: SpaceX Starlink.com

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn Janeidy 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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