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SpaceX Successfully Tests Starlink Nearly At Twice The Speed Of Sound!

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SPACEX-STARSHIP-SUPER-HEAVY-STATIC-FIRE-AUGUST-2022

SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet service also made a highly anticipated appearance on the firm's Starship rocket during its first test flight attempt in April. Before the test, Starlink had appeared in several regulatory filings and images of SpaceX's rockets, but the picture was left unclear before the April test attempt. Now, SpaceX has confirmed that the internet service did indeed make an appearance and, in the process, set a new performance record as it flew almost twice at the speed of sound and an altitude nearly three times at which commercial airliners fly.

Starlink's Starship Performance Opens Door For Providing Connectivity On SpaceX's Crew Dragon For Return

The first hint of SpaceX's plan to use Starlink in high-intensity environments came from a filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2021. In this filing, the firm requested the governing body to allow it to conduct tests to determine whether Starlink is suitable for "orbital spaceflight missions."

This application was granted, and it seems like SpaceX is well on its way to conducting the tests. While the period for the application is likely to have elapsed by now, what is certain is that the internet service did indeed make an appearance on the Starship test launch. As a side note, it's unclear whether SpaceX is also testing Starlink on either the crewed or cargo variants of the Dragon spacecraft.

In a Twitter post, a dedicated Starlink account that has become active recently shared specifics about the internet service's performance. According to SpaceX:

Starlink set an altitude and speed record for use in-flight during Starship’s first flight test, providing connectivity at 123,600+ feet and while traveling at Mach 1.7!

A close up of what appears to be a Starlink user terminal was installed on the Starship SN15 prototype as it waited for its fate on the launch pad in April. In addition to testing Starlink on Air Force aircraft, SpaceX has also mounted satellites on its Starship rocket prototype as shown above. Image Credit: Carter Goode

A month after SpaceX had applied to orbital flights, it submitted another application requesting authority to test Starlink during a Starship second-stage suborbital test flight. Back then, the firm was testing the second stage of its rocket, and these were simple flight tests aimed at testing crucial performance features of the rocket, such as its ability to reignite its engines and land in one piece. At the same time, photographs of the rocket also surfaced, showing the Starlink dishes installed on the rocket.

With the next Starship test flight slated to take place over the next few months, it appears the user dishes have performed well in a strenuous environment. Starlink must use a dish to communicate with the orbiting satellites, and SpaceX has expanded its portfolio of dishes since the application round in 2021. While back then, the firm was offering only a consumer-focused terminal, since then, it has expanded these to include high-performance variants that are unsuitable for use near humans and require professional installation.

The jury's still out on when the next Starship test flight will occur. SpaceX has shared with NASA that the next test could occur as soon as in July, and its chief Mr. Elon Musk has also reiterated these estimates for the Starship test flight 2. Additionally, a SpaceX filing with the FCC that surfaced in May set out a test timeline for the second Starship flight test starting from the 15th of this month and lasting six months. However, a key hurdle in any fast plans is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which granted SpaceX's launch license with the condition that it was limited to only one launch with future missions requiring additional approvals. Eventually, this approval will decide when a test will take place, and a key concern for the FAA will be the launch pad in the disastrous aftermath of the first Starship flight test.

Written by Ramish Zafar

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