" target="_blank">5G networks to meet these needs in more urban environments, SpaceX proposed this new densified satellite constellation to substantially increase capacity and drive up the number of consumers even in rural and remote areas that will have access to truly robust broadband, albeit with many fewer antennas than those deployed by terrestrial operators."

In other words - SpaceX is clearly committed to keep expanding Starlink continuously over the upcoming decade, hoping to be able to keep up with demand and to remain competitive with 5G Term details" target="_blank">cellular.

In the new FCC filing - SpaceX is pitching two different proposals to the FCC for deploying these next-generation Starlink satellites - one using the current Falcon 9 rocket, and the other more ambitious proposal using the absolutely massive SpaceX Starship to launch up to 400 Starlink satellites at once.

SpaceX is hoping to get both options approved so it can proceed with working on Starship, but it still wants to have a fallback if the incredibly ambitious Starship ends up delayed.

This new FCC proposal is for the 2nd generation Starlink constellation - the first-generation constellation is still underway and has a LOT more left to launch, at least once the current "stand down" period ends.

Concluding Thoughts: Despite Delays, Starlink Is Evolving Fast

Watching SpaceX rapidly evolve Starlink and Starship is like watching science fiction come to life.

But as we reminded people in July - if you are not ready to be on the bleeding edge of beta service - Starlink is NOT recommended for most RVers or cruisers just yet.

At the moment - supported locations are frustratingly limited, and frequent brief connection drop-outs can make certain types of online tasks frustrating even if you are located in a supported cell.

starlink at capacity
In many parts of the country (even remote rural areas) - Starlink is currently "at capacity" and will not allow mobile users who move into that area to connect at all.

Eventually, though - we expect that Starlink will become an increasingly common component of many mobile connectivity arsenals.

But for most it will be just a component - complementing cellular, not replacing it.

We expect Starlink will continue to evolve rapidly, and once the current "standing down" period is over and launches resume we expect SpaceX will be ready to share a major update on what to expect with the next phase of Starlink's deployment, and when.

Exciting times ahead!

For a much deeper dive into the current state of Starlink and mobility (including all the current limitations), see our post and video from July:

Starlink for Mobile Internet for RVers & Boaters Mid-2021 Update: Global Coverage, Next Generation Gear & Mobility Challenges

UPDATE (August 27): LOX Shortage, Terminal Costs, Launch Schedule

1024px Gwynne Shotwell at 2018 Commercial Crew announcement
SpaceX President and Chief Operation Officer Gwynne Shotwell.

Speaking at the Space Symposium this week, Gwynne Shotwell shared a bit more on the delays impacting Starlink.

Shotwell again explained that SpaceX's goal was to incorporate laser interconnects into all future Starlink satellites:

"That's why we have been struggling for six or eight weeks — we wanted the next set to have laser terminals on them."

She said that the pause may be coming to an end however, and she was now aiming to be able to resume launches in approximately three weeks time.

She also shared more about the reasons for the delays in getting Dishy hardware and satellites deployed:

“We have two big issues right now. One are the chips. In fact, that’s what’s delayed some of the new user terminals that we’re spinning the design on. 

The other thing is liquid oxygen. 

We’re actually going to be impacted this year with the lack of liquid oxygen for launch. We certainly are going to make sure the hospitals are going to have the oxygen that they need, but for anybody who has liquid oxygen to spare, send me an email.”

Liquid oxygen is needed as fuel for rocket engines, but since so much supply is being diverted to hospitals to treat Covid patients it is now in extremely short supply across many areas of the country.

Once the supply issues are ironed out, one of SpaceX's most critical goals is bringing down the cost of the end-user Dishy terminal, which SpaceX is selling for $499 at a huge loss.

Gwynne also commented on this at the Space Symposium:

"The ones we will have later this year will cost roughly half of what our current user terminals cost. And then we think we’ll be able to cut that in half yet again. We’ve made tremendous progress on the user terminal, but those are still expensive. But again, I think they’ll be about a quarter of the cost to us right now in maybe a year.”

She is referring to the costs of production, not the end-user cost - which is likely to remain at $499 for at least the near future.

If SpaceX can cut its costs of production this much however, they will no longer be selling terminals at a loss. At some future point, SpaceX may even consider lowering the consumer purchase price once the initial Starlink demand has been satisfied.

Other News: Open Cells Closing, Some Areas Now Waiting Until 2023

In other Starlink news...

Starlink Order 2023
Starlink availability is being pushed all the way out to 2023 in some areas.

There have been several recent reports that SpaceX appears to be closing down many formerly open cells, making it increasingly difficult for RVers to successfully "move" their Starlink service to new areas as they travel.

Mobile Starlink pioneer Marcus Tuck shared this week that he has managed to travel across Canada using sixty different "service addresses" to keep connected with Starlink - but now it seems that a repeat of his trip would be impossible...

"Last weekend SpaceX changed something and many cells I found disappeared. Even locations I know people are using Starlink are showing as service not being available there yet. I don't know what SpaceX have done but it looks like they are shutting down the options to move like I have been. Hopefully this is a sign they will be launching a mobile service soon (I suspect not, but I'm trying to be optimistic)."

Several people have also noticed that SpaceX has pushed back the target service date for customers placing orders in some areas to 2023:

“Starlink is currently at capacity in your area, so your order may not be fulfilled until 2023 or later.”

Most areas in the United States however still come up as "mid to late 2021" - and it is unclear how realistic these predictions provided when ordering on Starlink.com will prove to be.

With service proving increasingly hard to move - it is hard to recommend that RVers and cruisers continue to use fake addresses to hunt for valid locations where they can place an immediate Starlink order.

Further Reading

And here is all of our recent satellite internet coverage:


Last Mile Source