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Starship, Starlink prepares for the most ambitious SpaceX crossover event in history



After a long period of twists and turns, SpaceX has requested FCC permission to operate the Starlink network antenna installed on Starship serial number 15 (SN15).

The SN15 is the first of four or more upgraded starship prototypes planned, one mile from SpaceX’s South Texas plant to its suborbital launch site late last week. At about the same time as the installation of the rear cabin part to the nose of the aircraft was about April 3, the first 360-degree panorama of the rocket showed an unusual porthole-like appearance above the dome of the spacecraft’s front cabin. As early as the Starhopper in 2019, Starships used the space between the tank and the nose cone as a mounting point for avionics, Tesla batteries, and many radio and GPS antennas.

New hardware is usually under the radar, but most people who noticed it thought it was some kind of antenna upgrade. It turns out that this guess is almost certainly correct-but not in the way people most expected.

Starship SN15 plans to begin qualification testing activities as early as Monday, April 12. (NASASpaceflight-Bocachicagal)

When the new antenna of SN15 first appeared, the author speculated that it had striking similarities with the SpaceX Starlink antenna. However, another forum user believes that this is likely to be an upgraded S-band antenna, similar to the antenna used on SpaceX’s Falcon rocket. The author then pointed out that the pass-through size of the S-band antenna located between the Falcon booster stages is almost the same as the new antenna and housing visible on the new spacecraft SN15, and it seems that the case has been closed.

The S-band telemetry antenna of Falcon 9 B1060 is almost the same size as the once mysterious antenna of Starship SN15. Both rockets are roughly scaled to scale. (Richard Point/NSF-Michigan)

Nine days later, SpaceX asked the FCC to allow the operation of the Starlink antenna (user terminal) in Boca Chica “no more than 12.5 kilometers above sea level” “on the ground or during test flights.” In other words, the antenna installed on the Starship SN15 is almost certainly a Starlink antenna. The antenna is surrounded by an aerodynamic enclosure and is firmly fixed to the rocket, relying entirely on sophisticated phased array beamforming to electronically “manipulate” itself, from one of the nearly 1,000 operational Starlink satellites currently in orbit. Or multiple transmit and receive signals. .

At the request of SpaceX’s FCC Special Provisional Administration (STA), the company curiously requested a 60-day test period starting on April 20. Even if the FCC moved very quickly and approved the STA within a week of SpaceX’s request on April 9, the company is unlikely to postpone the Starship SN15 test or launch plan for nearly ten days to wait for a new license to use the rocket. Starlink antenna. In other words, although SN15 is the first Starship to install a Starlink antenna, it is by no means the first person to actually test the function on the ground or during launch.

Although unlikely, SpaceX’s Starship SN15 Starlink antenna installation is almost the same size as the Falcon 9’s reliable but more basic S-band installation. This also raises the question of whether it can succeed in the Starship test flight. Add the future Falcon booster of the Starlink antenna. In any case, Starship SN15 is expected to begin a busy week of qualification testing in South Texas. If the Rockets suffer any serious delays, as stipulated by the recognized Starship prototype, then SN15 is likely to begin testing its Starlink discs in the middle of next week.


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