Last updated on October 30, 2020
The development of the Starlink satellite constellation is so advanced that the service is entering the “better-than-nothing beta” phase. It is only available by invitation. A Reddit user from Washington state in the northwest of the USA published prices and benefits after being invited to the beta test. According to this, the users have to make an advance payment of 499 US dollars for the satellite dish called Dishy McFlatface , but there are also around 100 US dollars in taxes and shipping. The monthly cost is $ 99.
The data rates will be between 50 and 150 Mbit / s, with a latency between 20 and 40 ms. From summer 2021, performance is expected to increase significantly through a combination of software updates, more satellites and the expansion of the ground stations. Little is known about whether prices will then remain constant or about the possible availability and prices of the service in Germany.
Because the satellite constellation is not yet fully developed, users must still expect connection failures if no satellite is in range. Geographical latitudes between 45 and 55 degrees, such as the US state Washington or Canada and Germany, currently have the best coverage.
So far, 0.7 percent of the satellites are permanent space junk
Because of the large number of satellites launched, there are fears that a large number of defective satellites and space debris could also be found in orbits. So far, SpaceX has launched 895 satellites. Most of the first 60 Starlink version 0.9 satellites were crashed. 14 are still in orbit, eight of which are defective. Of the remaining 833 version 1.0 satellites, 825 are still in orbit. Eleven of these satellites are defective. Five of them are in low orbits and will crash within a year or two.
The other six satellites failed in operational orbit at an altitude of about 550 km. They will not enter the Earth’s atmosphere for about 25 years, so they pose a long-term problem. SpaceX deliberately releases satellites in low orbits so that satellites that are defective from the start can crash faster. This also leaves time to identify satellites with other defects and to intentionally crash them. SpaceX has announced that it will remove the functioning satellites from orbit after a maximum of five years of operation in order to keep the defect rate low.
The failure rate for all 895 Starlink satellites is currently around 3 percent. The first 60 satellites of version 0.9 make a disproportionately large contribution to this. Her failure rate was over 13 percent. For version 1.0, the failure rate is 2.3 percent. 1.3 percent of the satellites are still defective in orbit, with 0.7 percent in critical operational orbit. No other satellites have failed in operational orbit since June. This should contribute to the fact that the satellites of version 1.0 are also constantly being improved, not only by the darkening of the Visorsats.