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Space News wrote that SpaceX delivered another 53 Starlink satellites into orbit on November the 13th. This launch is a part of the broadband constellation in two months.

At 7:19 a.m. Falcon 9 left the launch pad situated in Cape Canaveral in florida with Starlink satellites. Initially the launch was planned for the 12th of November, but it was delayed due to poor weather.

In addition to launching four other Starlink missions, the booster was used for SpaceX’s Crew Demo-2, ANASIS-11, CRS-21 and Transporter-1 missions.

Falcon 9 can celebrate its first anniversary. The vehicle has made 25 launches and the vast majority of them were with Starlink satellites aboard for the rapidly expanding constellation.

To date, SpaceX has launched more than 1,800 Starlink satellites to build out global coverage. 

Its last dedicated Starlink launch mission lifted off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California Sept. 13, placing 51 satellites in polar orbit.

Starlink services

Starlink is serving about 140,000 users across 20 countries, according to a presentation SpaceX filed with the Federal Communications Commission November 10, up about 40,000 from what it reported in August.

It said it had received more than 750,000 “orders/deposits globally” for the service. But due to the silicon shortages caused by the pandemic the company couldn’t  cover all its orders in time.

Antennas have been a major sticking point for the company as it heavily subsidizes them to encourage adoption.

On November 10th, the FCC approved a new Starlink antenna. SpaceX mentioned that they can produce such antenna much cheaper, although it continues to charge customers $499 for the hardware needed to connect to Starlink’s services.

The new rectangular dish is also thinner and lighter than its circular predecessor.

Starlink’s beta users have been using a 23-inch-wide, 16-pound circular user terminal for more than a year where the broadband services are available. They now have the option of buying a dish that is 12 inches wide and 19 inches long, weighing 16 pounds. 

The 12-inch width also matches the diameter of the antennas that Amazon is developing for its planned Project Kuiper constellation, although the new Starlink antenna is still larger than Amazon’s design.

However, Project Kuiper remains far behind Starlink’s operational deployment. Amazon said Nov. 1 it plans to launch two Project Kuiper prototype satellites for testing purposes by the fourth quarter of 2022.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told the Mobile World Congress June 29 that right now the production of its antennas cost $1000. The company aims to deminish this price tag to around $250 or $300. 

Speaking at the Space Symposium Aug. 24, SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell said the company was aiming to reduce the cost of making its user terminals by half before the end of 2021, “and then we think we’ll be able to cut that in half yet again.”

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