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Starlink could come out of beta next month despite pre-order backlog
by David Allen
Starlink could be coming out of its beta testing phase and be made publicly available next month, Elon Musk says. With just over a year in beta, Starlink believes it has enough positive feedback to abandon the “beta” moniker. Most users in the year-long beta have reported positive feedback from the high-speed internet service alternative.
The package consists of a Wi-Fi terminal and satellite dish in an automated self-install package costing $499. Service as of now is $99.00. Starlink has made every effort to make the service as price-friendly as possible, though challenges remain. Starlink is said to be working on a more rugged version of the device to better handle the weather elements.
Those looking for a quick answer to a high-speed internet connection may have to keep waiting even after the service goes public. Recently, customers with pre-orders have seen fulfillment dates fall into 2022-2023 timeframes. It's estimated that Starlink already has approximately 400,000 preorders waiting to be filled.
A service targeted for rural America and places where traditional broadband options don't exist, Starlink may offer a solid solution, but it sounds like users might be waiting a while to receive it. It'll be interesting to see how the service performs as more orders are filled.
TWIRL 30: Civilian astronauts set to go to space in Dragon capsule
by Paul Hill
After a boring last two weeks in space launches, this week promises to be a lot more interesting. The main focus is the Inspiration4 Crew Dragon mission set to launch in the very early hours on Thursday (UTC, Wednesday local time) carrying pilot Jared Isaacman and three civilian astronauts; Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor, and Chris Sembroski. Unlike Jeff Bezos’ trip to space, the Inspiration4 crew will stay in Earth orbit for several days before coming back to Earth.
Monday, September 13
The first launch of the week will come from SpaceX, which is launching a Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket from Vandenberg AFB. The rocket will carry 60 Block 1.5 Starlink satellites that are equipped with laser com terminals. The satellites will join the Starlink constellation and provide internet to subscribers on Earth. This launch should be available on the SpaceX website after it has taken place or as a live stream on its website during the event.
The second launch will be a Long March CZ-2C taking off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. It will be carrying two satellites with the designation Yaogan 32 Group 02. It’s unclear what the purpose of the satellites is but they’re reportedly going to perform signals intelligence work. The launch was delayed from September 12 but hopes to launch at 7:45 a.m. UTC on the 13th.
Tuesday, September 14
On Tuesday, the private French-Russian company Starsem will launch a Soyuz 2.1b rocket with a Fregat upper stage carrying 34 OneWeb internet satellites to Earth orbit. This mission was delayed from August 26 and September 9 so, hopefully, the mission will succeed this time. OneWeb is a competitor to SpaceX and has already announced plans to beam internet to commercial flights and the Canadian military.
Thursday, September 16
On Wednesday evening, but Thursday morning (1:01 a.m.) on Universal Coordinated Time, we’ll see a SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket take off from Florida carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft containing a crew of four. The Inspiration4 mission will see pilot Jared Isaacman and three civilian astronauts spend about three days in Earth orbit before returning to Earth. Isaacman is joined on the mission by Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor, and Chris Sembroski. When the crew comes back to Earth, they will splash down in the Atlantic Ocean near Cape Canaveral.
Sunday, September 19
The final mission of the week will launch from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. An ExPace Kuaizhou KZ-1A rocket will launch carrying the Jilin Gaofan 2F satellite. It will join the Jilin 1 Earth observation constellation which is run by Chang Guang Satellite Technology Company and is the 20th satellite to join the constellation. It will capture full-colour images down to 0.76 meters over a swath of 40km.
Last Tuesday at 3:01 a.m. UTC, a Long March 4C carrying the second Gaofen 5 satellite launched. It will be using instruments to observe the atmosphere and measure greenhouse gas emissions, trace gases, and more.
On Thursday, a Long March 3B launched the Zhongxing 9B satellite into orbit to replace the Zhongxing 9A satellite. The satellite is used for telecommunication and will help provide radio, TV and other services in China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
Also on Thursday, the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation launched a Soyuz 2.1v carrying the Kosmos-2551 satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. It will perform Earth observation tasks.
TWIRL 29: China set to dominate launch schedule this week
by Paul Hill
The upcoming week won’t see any really exciting launches, just run-of-the-mill satellite launches. Interestingly, all the launches with a definite launch window will be launching from China. Launch sites seeing action this week include the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, and the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
Monday, September 6
The first launch of the week will see a Long March CZ-4C rocket carry the Gaofen 5-02 hyperspectral Earth-imaging satellite into orbit where it will make up part of the CHEOS constellation. The satellite will be carrying a number of scientific instruments that will allow it to perform atmospheric sensing to measure things like greenhouse gas emissions, trace gases and other atmospheric properties. This mission will launch from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.
Thursday, September 9
The second launch of the week will take place at 11 a.m. UTC from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. A Long March CZ-3B/E rocket will carry the Zhongxing 9B satellite into orbit. The satellite will provide various services such as TV and radio in China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. The lifespan of the satellite is 15 years and it’ll support or replace the Zhongxing 9A satellite which used too much fuel trying to correct its position.
Sunday, September 12
The final launch of the week is due to take place from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. A Long March CZ-2C rocket will be carrying two Yaogan satellites for the military. It’s unclear what the purpose of these satellites is.
Last Sunday, SpaceX’s CRS-23 mission managed to lift off following an earlier aborted launch.
Not long after launch, the CRS-23 Dragon docked with the space station. It was carrying operational cargo for those aboard the ISS.
The other rocket launch this week was Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket which was performing its maiden flight. Unfortunately, the craft exploded not long after launch, destroying the numerous payloads that were aboard. The launch failure was put down to ‘an anomaly’.
Starlink dishes apparently no match for ... pigeons, but there may be hope
by Sayan Sen
SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet speeds received pretty good marks in Ookla's recent assessment report where the service was compared against fixed broadbands from several places throughout the world. However, while that is indeed praiseworthy, apparently the Starlink terminals or the dishes at users' places are seemingly vulnerable to pigeons, perhaps among other animals, as the birds' interference with the dishes apparently could disrupt the connectivity.
About his newly installed Starlink service, Professor Alan Woodward, a cyber-security expert at the University of Surrey, told the BBC recently that he "noticed a series of outages - some a second, some longer," despite the performance itself having "actually been very good".
Woodward believes that "pesky pigeons" are responsible for the outages as the creatures "have taken a fancy to sitting on the dish". While the Prof is still looking at the root cause of such glitches, a certain expert has confirmed to the BBC that a
Pigeons indeed love to sit in dishes for some reason or another, a rather common behavior most people have probably observed. And, it seems the current Starlink terminals aren't made in a way to handle such attention. However, that could all change soon.
According to a recent license filing in the FCC, the company seems to be working on a more "high-performance (HP)" "rugged" version of the dishes that are being built for "use in harsh environments". These new "rugged" terminals may be able to handle such nuisances from animals like pigeons, if they are deployed for households too.
By Usama Jawad96
Elon Musk: Seems like Bezos retired to pursue a job filing lawsuits against SpaceX
by Usama Jawad
Eccentric entrepreneur and billionaire Elon Musk consistently finds ways to make it to the news. Although the executive is well-regarded for his PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, and The Boring Company, he is quite outspoken on social media platforms like Twitter. Just a few weeks ago, he shot down rumors of demanding the Apple CEO position from Tim Cook in a very public manner. Now, he has made his way to Neowin for taking a dig at Amazon's recently-retired and former CEO Jeff Bezos.
Essentially, the problem dates back to when NASA awarded a $2.9 billion contract to Musk's SpaceX for a manned lunar mission. In Godfather-esque style, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made an offer to the U.S. space agency to award the contract to his Blue Origin company instead, and in return, Bezos would waive off $2 billion in payments. This offer was rejected by NASA in just a couple of days.
It seems that reeling from its defeat on that issue, Amazon is now urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny SpaceX' plans to develop and launch a second-generation Starlink network. The firm's own satellite broadband company, Kuiper Systems, alleges that the plans in question are too broad, speculative, and break FCC rules.
Musk is obviously not too happy with the allegation and has taken a dig at former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos by tweeting the following:
Bezos stepped down from his role as Amazon CEO at the start of July and was succeeded by Andy Jassy. Musk's dig clearly implies that Bezos left Amazon so he could spend more time causing problems for SpaceX.
It is important to note that Amazon has just filed a formal protest to the FCC and hasn't actually initiated a lawsuit. It will be interesting to see how this matter evolves, but you can be sure that Musk's Twitter handle will be providing snarky updates on the proceedings moving forward too.