Saturday, December 9, 2023


Starlink News: SpaceX gets green light for two new dishes, loses 200+ satellites

FCC approves new smaller and larger Starlink dishes

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued approval for SpaceX to introduce two new Starlink dishes, one smaller and one larger than the current models.

The smaller of the two is about the size of a notebook computer and will enable Starlink Roam RV users to have more utility in storage and deployment. The second, larger dish is 22.4 inches by 14.7 inches, designed to optimize performance.

The first of these new dishes approved by the FCC measures 11.4 inches by 9.8 inches, approximately the size of an Apple MacBook. With its smaller form factor, it opens the door to an array of possibilities for improved connectivity as the compact size not only simplifies installation but also offers users greater flexibility in choosing where to place it compared to the current dish, which measures 20.2 inches by 11.9 inches. The larger form factor is designed for high performance and will outperform SpaceX’s current line of fixed models.

The new dishes will communicate seamlessly with both first- and second-generation Starlink satellites, promising a more reliable and efficient connection for subscribers. Specifics regarding a launch date, official pricing, or potential speed enhancements were not published in the application.

The FCC’s current grant of approval covers only stationary use of the new Starlink dishes. SpaceX has requested approval for the dishes to be used on vehicles, but the FCC has withheld a ruling on mobile use due to a conflict with Dish Network over a purported interference issue. The FCC ruled against Dish Network’s interference filing in May, so at the time of writing it is unclear why the commission withheld the in-motion approval for Starlink’s new dish equipment. SpaceX can be expected to file to have the approval expanded to include mobile broadband Wi-Fi operation.

Mysterious increase in lost satellites

Starlink, the world’s most successful satellite internet provider, currently has more than 5,000 low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellites providing extensive broadband coverage and impressive bandwidth. SpaceX launches another payload of 22 satellites every few days, to eventually deploy more than 30,000 orbiters. For RVers, Starlink is the most extensive and reliable internet connection available.

SpaceX has a spotless safety record of launching the thousands of satellites in its constellation without a loss, while at the same time reusing its launch vehicles.

Not often mentioned in the reporting about Starlink is the fact that the satellites are expendable, and designed to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere and burn up when their orbits degrade. Interestingly, though, satellite tracking data shows that SpaceX lost 212 satellites between mid-July and mid-September, a much higher-than-normal rate of attrition. The satellites have not reached the end of the design service life, and so there is a question of what is happening to so many orbiters. The increase in losses seems to be somehow correlated to the dramatic increase in SpaceX launches that occurred in the July-September timeframe.

Not the first time

SpaceX has lost Starlink satellites before. In February 2022, space weather caused 47 satellites to re-enter the atmosphere and burn.

While a solar storm was the cause, the satellites were lost because SpaceX launched them despite knowing that the storm could adversely affect the fleet.

Also in February 2022, SpaceX lost some of the 21 Starlink V2 Mini satellites due to an undisclosed problem resulting in their de-orbiting. At the time, Elon Musk said that the issue was related to the new technology used in the V2 Mini design. He said that SpaceX would initiate de-orbit but that some satellites could be saved and continue to rise to their operational orbits.


Randall Brink
Randall Brink
Randall Brink is an author hailing from Idaho. He has written many fiction and non-fiction books, including the critically acclaimed Lost Star: The Search for Amelia Earhart. He is the screenwriter for the new Grizzly Adams television series and the feature film Goldfield. Randall Brink has a diverse background not only as a book author, Hollywood screenwriter and script doctor, but also as an airline captain, chief executive, and Alaska bush pilot.



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Tom (@guest_254562)
2 months ago

Too bad these are throw away satellites, after a relatively short time in orbit.

Blue Duck (@guest_254299)
2 months ago

Great article Randall!

Tommy Molnar (@guest_254154)
2 months ago

I know ‘space’ is vast, but how in the world do they put up manned flights to the space station with tens of tens of thousands of satellites, ours and ‘theirs’, and all the space junk floating around out there – and not run into any of this stuff?

Cancelproof (@guest_254173)
2 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Good article. I have thought about that too Tommy, and I could be wrong but I don’t think it is even close to being an issue, YET. Probably will be a big concern someday tho. The Low Orbit band in space is an area that is probably twice the surface area of the earth so less collision potential than 10,000 rubber ducks on the Pacific even tho they concentrate the satellites in certain areas of space.

It was nice to learn in Randall’s piece that Elon thought this through and then vaporizes his used or spent equipment as SOP in his business practices using forced re-entry.

Bill Byerly (@guest_254198)
2 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Great question Tommy. What do you think Randall?

Neal Davis (@guest_254141)
2 months ago

Thank you, Randall!

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