SpaceX User Earth Stations

As a future user of Starlink I was wondering what the user earth stations would look like, how much they would cost and what the monthly user fee might be.

SpaceX has petitioned the FCC to approve the deployment of 1 million Starlink user terminals. According to an interview with Elon Musk in 2015, the laptop-sized terminals are expected to cost between $100 and $300 each.

Each terminal uses a phased array antenna to communicate with satellites when they are 40 degrees above the horizon. However, in initial deployment, this viewing angle may be as low as 25 degrees to increase coverage with a minimum constellation of satellites.

The minimum fleet of Starlink satellites could be as low as 800, with 1,600 the phase one target. With the deployment of 2,825 phase two satellites, a network simulation indicates a single terminal could see 40 to 60 satellites overhead at any one instant, depending on end the user’s earth station latitude.

According to testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Commission by Patricia Cooper, VP Satellite Government Affairs at SpaceX.

For the end consumer, SpaceX user terminals—essentially, a relatively small flat panel, roughly the size of a laptop—will use similar phased array technologies to allow for highly directive, steered antenna beams that track the system’s low-Earth orbit satellites.

The user terminals operate in the Ku and Ka-Bands:

a. The Satellite to User Terminal downlink is at 10.7GHz to 12.7 GHz.
b. The User Terminal to Satellite uplink is from 14.0GHz to 14.5 GHz.

I could not find any photos of a prototype users terminal. Will this terminal be a portable device or device fixed to the roof of a structure like this OneWeb access terminal? I guess that both options may be available.

OneWeb Terminal

SpaceX has just started hiring engineers and designer to build their user terminals, some stationed in Redmond WA and other at the Hawthorne facility in CA

Given my interest in someday being a Starlink user, I will continue to follow the user station development, and uncover some answers on user cost and deployment configurations. Stay Tuned!

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