Starlink: 53 more satellites in orbit, but the chip crisis slows down hardware production

Last week was particularly busy for SpaceX which, after successfully launching the Crew-3 mission, the fourth manned flight to the ISS, launched into orbit others 53 satellites of the Starlink constellation.

The launch of the Falcon 9 took place on 13 November at 13. 11, Italian time, in a decidedly environmental scenario fascinating, with a morning fog that enveloped the entire Cape Canaveral complex. The mission had been postponed in recent days due to the unfavorable weather in Florida which also caused the return of the Crew-2 from the ISS to be postponed.

Deployment of 53 Starlink satellites confirmed bnYtOqUUfC

– SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 13, 2021

With the success of this yet another launch, the statistics of the Falcon 9 must also be updated, they become even more interested. This is the 23 ° of this year and the ninth flight with this booster which was also used for the Crew-2 missions, ANASIS – 11, CRS – 21 and Transporter-1. Furthermore, it was the 87 ° successful overall recovery for the Falcon and the 99 ° SpaceX orbital flight.

As for Starlink, with this new mission, the constellation is now consisting of 1. 844 communications satellites . The launch of the first lot, we recall, took place in May of 2019. Starlink satellite launches resumed after a rather long pause considering the frequency of the previous ones. The latest was a couple of months ago, when they were put into orbit 51 satellites.

This slowdown in launches was necessary not for technical problems but to upgrade the equipment of the satellites which now also integrate lasers that will allow direct communication between them, without the need to constantly interface with the ground stations, which will bring advantages in certain scenarios of use. Currently, each satellite must necessarily “see” both the user’s dish and a gateway to bounce the signal of the connection. In practice, this would be a “version 1.5” but in any case there would also be a second generation (Gen2) larger from a dimensional point of view and with greater power.

In the documents submitted to the FCC, the US commission that regulates telecommunications, in addition to the confirmation of the exceeding of quota 1. 800 satellites and beyond 140. 000 users already active throughout the 20 Countries , Starlink has claimed to have nearly a million pre-orders and reiterated its intention to place in low orbit up to 42. 000 satellites.

The changes made to the Gen2 of its satellites, the document reads, will not change the main satellite interference and performance parameters, but the possibility of increasing the levels by two units is required of altitude for a more uniform distribution. The documents also reveal a slowdown in production due to a shortage of semiconductors.

Starlink’s initial requests to the FCC were for placement of more than 25. 000 satellites at altitudes below 400 kilometers up 54 orbital planes. The new designed configuration aims to position approximately 20. 000 satellites at lower altitudes but in 174 orbital planes.

Starlink potentially offers a data connection between 100 And 200 Mbps even if, currently, it is between 50 And 150 Mbps with latency up to 20 ms. As for prices, in Italy the hardware costs 499 euro to which it must be added a monthly subscription fee of 99 EUR. As of today, the service is still in beta.

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