Starlink announces price increase, upfront fee for new customers raised to $710

In recent days, due to inflation, Starlink, a company owned by SpaceX, has also raised prices. Starlink emailed customers that it would adjust all fees including deposits and monthly service fees, but users could cancel their subscriptions during the first year and receive a refund.

Starlink pointed out that the antenna terminal equipment for new users has increased from US$499 (about NT$14,277) to US$599 (about NT$17,139), and the monthly fee has also increased from US$99 (about NT$2,834) per month to US$110 (about NT$2,834). NT$3,148). The above price increase applies to existing users, while the prepaid fee for new customers has increased from US$600 (approximately TWD 17,167) to US$ 710 (approximately TWD 20,314). Starlink said: “The price adjustment is to keep up with the pace of inflation.” If old Starlink users are dissatisfied with the price increase, they can cancel the service and send the equipment back within a year, and can get a partial refund of $200. Users who receive less than one month of installation will receive a refund of the amount.

Foreign media pointed out that Starlink has been facing bottlenecks in reducing antenna costs, and SpaceX CEO Musk once said on Twitter that electric vehicle brands Tesla and SpaceX have recently experienced huge inflationary pressures in raw materials and logistics, perhaps The Starlink markup is related to the above event.


Taiwan sends swine fever-like virus to outer space for the first time, paving the way for the development of vaccine drugs

“Five, four, three, two, one, launch!” The space station gave an order. The SpaceX rocket spewed a lot of fuel, raised billowing smoke and dust, and lifted off with swine fever-like virus particles. This is the first time Taiwan has launched a Virus particles are sent to outer space, and the virus has to go on a one-month “crystal growth journey” in space before returning to Earth.

It is difficult for the public to imagine that this batch of swine fever-like viruses first crossed the sea to Japan, and then sent to the United States for launch, a journey of tens of thousands of kilometers. It took more than 8 months before and after the National Synchrotron Radiation Research Center to complete. It took a lot of effort to send it to outer space, Chen Junrong, deputy director of the National Radiation Center explained, in order to “see clearly” the structure of the virus.

Chen Junrong said that before developing vaccines or drugs, the first task is to understand the virus first. Mastering the structure of the virus has always been the focus of scientists, but the earth has gravity, temperature, humidity and other factors that affect the formation of virus crystals, which will affect research to some extent. In space, there is no interference factor, which helps the virus to form large perfect crystals, which is beneficial to understand the fine structure of the virus.

In fact, biotechnology companies in the United States, Japan and other countries have already sent proteins to outer space for the purpose of developing targeted vaccines or drugs. Chen Junrong studied in the United States when he was young, and he also participated in similar space experiments. The idea of ​​space is not unfamiliar at all. After returning to Taiwan, there was no chance until Zhang Huaiqian, the founder of Sunwing Advanced Technology, came to the door and offered to cooperate, and started the project.

As the saying goes, “Everything is difficult at the beginning”, which is also reflected in the first virus sailing mission. The National Radiation Center can purify the swine fever virus protein and assemble it into virus-like particles, which do not contain genetic material, making it non-infectious, but space crystal growth. Handling skills and methods, the Taiwanese team has no experience and no relevant equipment.

Yangyi, as the Taiwan general agent of Japan Space BD Co., Ltd., Chen Junrong’s team asked Japan to send equipment to simulate the test in the Taiwan laboratory.

However, the crystal growth effect in the first test was not good, and the device was used up. Chen Junrong had to ask Space BD to send another batch of equipment for the second test. After more than a month, he finally found suitable parameters. Chen Junrong admitted that the environment is different, and the experimental conditions need to be re-explored.

In the end, the National Radiation Center used Space BD equipment and methods to send out 5 tubes of viral proteins and 5 tubes of specific liquids, a total of 10 test tubes were sent to the Space BD headquarters in Japan, and were sent to the United States by Japanese businessmen. The final assembly was placed in a special device. Once sent to the International Space Station in outer space, the virus-like particles and the uniquely formulated chemical solution slowly fuse in a gravity-free environment to further grow crystals.

However, the virus protein has to travel far to Japan, which is another test. Chen Junrong specially negotiated with a courier company that can guarantee the whole process of low temperature. The purpose is to ensure that the samples are fresh and pass through customs smoothly and directly to Japan. The package also has a tracking code attached, so that you can always grasp it. Latest News. Even the delivery date is deduced from the sand table.

Chen Junrong said that if it was sent on Tuesday, it might arrive in Japan on the weekend, and the Japanese business might not receive the sample package. If it was processed two days later, no one could tell what would happen, so he insisted that the courier company would get the package on Monday. goods. “During the transportation of the samples, the treatment specifications are better than people’s,” he said with a smile.

This batch of swine fever-like virus particles was successfully sent to space in December last year. After a month of “crystal growth journey”, they returned to Earth. The crystal samples were processed by Japan’s Space BD and then rapidly frozen at liquid nitrogen temperature before being sent to China. spoke center. In the follow-up, the National Radiation Center will use high-intensity X-rays to inspect the crystal quality and identify the structure, and plan to cooperate with the school on the research of swine fever virus particles, and ultimately hope to develop vaccines or drugs.

After having this experience, Chen Junrong said that the team also plans to send another batch of different virus-like particles into space in the third quarter of this year, and conduct space crystal growth experiments for more than 4 months, hoping to increase the number of crystals by extending the experimental time. Growth opportunities and effects.

The scope of damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure has expanded, and the role of the Starlink network will gradually become more important

Since the four weeks of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the battle situation has been in a stalemate. As the Russian artillery continued to bomb the front-line cities of Ukraine and the capital Kyiv, the damage to infrastructure such as the network has expanded. Therefore, the Ukrainian army is expected to rely more and more on SpaceX’s Starlink network. .

Since the outbreak of the Crimea crisis in 2014, a group of remote-controlled aircraft enthusiasts and volunteers with engineer backgrounds in Ukraine have formed a reconnaissance team to join the conflict in the Donbas region. They used their own expertise and made their own detectors. It also refitted small commercial drones to assist the Ukrainian army in reconnaissance, and also installed camera systems at commanding heights throughout the town, making a significant contribution to the Ukrainian army’s intelligence.

This volunteer team was later added to the regular army system by the Ukrainian government and named “Aerorozvidka”. It is equipped with PD-1 and PD-2 military drones developed by Ukraine’s UKRSPEC Systems. In recent years, it has been associated with NATO and the United States many times. Teams train and practice together.

However, after the attack was blocked, the Russian army began to bomb the infrastructure of front-line cities such as Kyiv, Odessa, Kharkov, and Mariupo with artillery units for a long time. Therefore, two weeks ago Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov ) asked SpaceX CEO Elon Musk for help on Twitter, and Musk immediately delivered Starlink equipment to Ukraine within a week.

Therefore, the Ukrainian military aviation reconnaissance team can now maintain smooth connections with Kyiv, the frontline headquarters, and drones through Starlink, even in a field environment lacking network connections. In addition to reconnaissance, it can also guide at any time. Artillery units, or strapped to artillery shells to attack Russian targets.

The Ukrainian military aviation reconnaissance team uses the UAV operating system code-named “Delta”. It is generally believed that this system is directly assisted by NATO to develop, and can be directly connected to the US and European reconnaissance systems, and then used with Starlink to make up for the damage to the basic network facilities. The connection ability of the Ukrainian army has made the Ukrainian army more worry-free in reconnaissance and guidance.

Russia is quite angry about Musk’s support. Dmitry Rogozin, director of Russian aerospace (Roscosmos), said that this is proof that Russia should never trust the West. Musk has repeatedly claimed that his technology is purely for civilian use, but when Russia is in the When safeguarding his core interests, he chose to take sides.

With the assistance of Starlink and the “Switchblade” suicide drone that the U.S. military will deliver in the near future, the Ukrainian air reconnaissance team will be able to significantly increase its attack capabilities.

Admiral James Dickinson, commander of the U.S. Space Command, also told Congress recently that Starlink’s performance in the Ukrainian battlefield shows the importance of low-orbit satellite constellations in future wars, and the U.S. military will speed up research on the use of related tactics .

Musk: The war has caused a surge in raw materials, and the company is facing huge inflationary pressures

The Ukrainian-Russian war has always supported Ukraine, Tesla CEO Elon Musk (Elon Musk) recently said that the inflation caused by the war has put Tesla and SpaceX’s raw materials and logistics under severe pressure.

According to Reuters, Musk tweeted that the Ukrainian-Russian war has pushed commodity prices to their highest since 2008. He cites aluminum for cars, palladium for motor converters, and nickel for electric vehicle batteries, whose prices have continued to soar, making it imperative for Tesla products to pass on higher costs to consumers. Tesla and SpaceX have yet to respond to Musk’s remarks.

Soaring raw material prices have sparked market doubts about the economics of electric vehicles. After traditional automakers and suppliers eased the chip shortage, they are preparing to launch new cars in 2022. Market analysts pointed out that, just like the easing shortage of semiconductor chips, Ukraine The Russian war has caused new disruptions to the supply of basic materials and led to worrying price spikes.

The report quoted analysts at Wells Fargo Bank as saying that the price of nickel, a key battery material, has risen 130% this year, while the prices of cobalt, lithium and aluminum have soared 16% to 88%. Tesla last week raised prices for its most popular SUVs and sedans in China and the U.S. by $1,000, while fellow EV maker Rivian Automotive also noted plans to cut production in half. Not long ago, Japan’s Toyota Motor also said it would cut production in the second quarter due to supply chain problems.

How do geomagnetic storms caused by active solar periods destroy orbiting satellites?

At the beginning of last month, as soon as SpaceX launched a batch of Starlink satellites, it was hit by a geomagnetic storm caused by a solar flare. 38 satellites were positioned and burned up in the atmosphere before they could reach orbit. SpaceX also lost $50 million as a result. How exactly do geomagnetic storms destroy satellites?

On February 4, 2022, SpaceX’s Starlink Group 4-7 mission launched 49 Starlink satellites. Unexpectedly, the material ejected by an M-class solar flare from the end of January to early February arrived on Earth just a few days later, causing A mild geomagnetic storm.

The Starlink satellite is first sent to an orbit 100-200 kilometers above the ground by the Falcon 9 rocket, and then maneuvers to overcome atmospheric resistance to slowly lift itself to a working orbit of 550 kilometers above the ground. However, when the atmosphere absorbs energy from the geomagnetic storm At , it will heat up and expand upwards, significantly increasing the density of the thermosphere (thermosphere, 80 to 1,000 kilometers from the surface). Higher density also means greater atmospheric drag, which is a disaster for new satellites that are raising their orbital altitudes.

So in the end, 38 Starlink satellites were affected by the magnetic storm, and the engine could not overcome the resistance to rise to the predetermined orbit. Within 8 days after launch, it slowly fell back to the surface and burned up in the atmosphere.

In addition to the direct “knock down” of the climbing satellite, the rapid increase of high-energy electrons in the magnetosphere also means that more electrons will penetrate the satellite barrier layer and accumulate in the electronic equipment. As a result, once the satellite encounters a small lightning strike , the electronic discharge will have a high probability of damaging the equipment.

Third, the charged particles produced by geomagnetic storms can also change the output signal of electronic equipment, which may cause errors and malfunctions in satellite electronic systems.

Fourth, geomagnetic storms can disrupt the ability of satellites to communicate with the surface by radio. Many communications technologies, such as GPS, rely on radio waves, which are disrupted to some extent by atmospheric particles. During geomagnetic storms, changes in the ionosphere will alter the way radio waves travel through, causing calibration errors that can skew GPS positioning by several meters.

Although the development of shielding layers and radiation-resistant materials can minimize the risk of damage to satellites, there is only so much that satellites can do in the face of powerful geomagnetic storms. What scientists can do is to improve space weather forecasting models and improve forecast accuracy. Take precautions.

NASA Inspector General blasts SLS development for inefficiency, total cost may soar to $93 billion

NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) Inspector General Paul Martin has been tracking the development of the Space Launch System SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft since his appointment in 2009. Despite numerous independent monitoring reports published, this time Paul Martin went on fire, succinctly pointing out that NASA wasted too much resources on the system and that Boeing, the prime contractor for the rocket development, was doing “very poor”.

NASA wants to go back to the moon, but the cost of going back to the moon has ballooned several times from what it predicted 10 years ago.

Paul Martin told a meeting of the House Subcommittee on Space and Aviation that the cost of the rocket, Orion and ground systems alone would be as high as the cost of each lunar mission launched under the Artemis program. $4.1 billion: $2.2 billion for a single SLS rocket, $568 million for ground systems, $1 billion for the Orion spacecraft, and $300 million for the Orion spacecraft service module.

Strikingly, these costs do not include the tens of billions of dollars that have been invested in developing the SLS rocket, the Orion spacecraft since 2005, and if the cost were to be spread over the more than 10 missions planned by Artemis, this figure would be will directly double. However, 5 years ago, NASA said that it hoped that the cost of a single mission of the Artemis program would be reduced to 2 billion US dollars, and it is clear that the cost is far more than expected.

Paul Martin said that NASA cannot rely on the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for meaningful exploration at this cost.

In addition, Paul Martin pointed out that NASA also concealed the expenditure of the Artemis program, which should be spent as high as $93 billion from 2012 to 2025.

“Part of the reason for NASA’s increasing costs is the efficiency of contractors, such as Boeing, which is responsible for developing the SLS rocket,” Paul Martin unabashedly pointed out that Boeing’s performance was very poor, poorly planned and poorly executed, but NASA continued to use “cost plus” Contract” to ensure that the system SLS-Orion is developed, which is good for the contractor and bad for NASA.

But according to Ars Technica, in fact, key members of Congress have been critical of NASA whenever it tries to move away from cost-plus contracts in favor of more commercial methods such as fixed-price contracts.

Boeing also responded to Paul Martin’s criticism in a statement on “CNBC” afterward, saying that the Artemis program is already more cost-effective than the Apollo program. If inflation is considered, the cost of NASA’s development of SLS is only the original farmer. A quarter of the God 5 launch vehicle.

Due to the continuous problems in the development and testing of the SLS rocket, NASA postponed the manned lunar landing plan to 2025 last year. However, in addition to the SLS rocket and the Orion spacecraft, the development progress of the space suit and the manned landing system (HLS) has not yet been clear, Paul Martin thinks there could be a further delay to 2026.

10 years ago, no one thought that SpaceX would be able to reduce the cost of rocket launches to an astonishingly low price today, but as NASA signs more and more agreements with contractors, it may be too late to abandon the SLS rocket and the Orion spacecraft. Unable to quit, only bite the bullet and continue to develop.

49 “Starlink” satellites encountered a geomagnetic storm, and 40 were damaged the day after launch

SpaceX said that as many as 40 of the 49 “Starlink” satellites it launched on the 3rd of this month were damaged the next day due to a geomagnetic storm. This is believed to be the largest damage to a satellite caused by a single geomagnetic storm.

SpaceX's Starlink internet satellites forced to dodge Russian  anti-satellite test debris | Space

【Rescue failed】

The official website of SpaceX released an update on the 8th saying that the company routinely launched 49 “Starlink” satellites to an orbit lower than the predetermined orbital altitude on the 3rd, and prepared to conduct preliminary testing on these satellites. into a predetermined orbit 210 kilometers above the ground.

“Unfortunately”, SpaceX said, a geomagnetic storm that occurred on the 4th severely affected the satellites, warming the atmosphere in the area where the satellites are located, increasing density and increasing atmospheric drag by up to 50 percent from previous launch levels .

The “Starlink” team then controlled the satellite to enter a safe flight mode, allowing the satellite to fly “sideways” to reduce atmospheric drag. However, most satellites have never been able to return to normal mode once they have gone into safe mode, so “up to 40 satellites will re-enter or have re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere.”

SpaceX said the risk of a deorbiting satellite colliding with other satellites is “zero” and will burn up after re-entry, leaving no debris left in space or debris falling to the ground.

【Ignore the warning? 】

According to Reuters, before the launch of these “Starlink” satellites, the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center had predicted a possible geomagnetic storm. The center previously warned that a strong solar flare was detected on January 29, and the ejected material and energy may reach Earth as early as February 1, and the geomagnetic storm caused by it may last until February 3.

SpaceX Starlink service priced at $99 a month, public beta test begins

Flares are events in which a localized region of the Sun’s atmosphere suddenly brightens, accompanied by strongly enhanced electromagnetic radiation, solar proton events (large streams of high-energy charged particles), and coronal mass ejections. After the material and energy of these active jets reach the near-Earth space, they will strongly disturb the Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere and upper atmosphere, causing geomagnetic storms.

Jonathan McDowell, an expert at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, believes that the damage caused by the geomagnetic storm to the satellite this time is the largest single-scale damage, and it is also the first time that the increase in atmospheric density has caused large-scale damage to the satellite.

McDowell said it was unclear whether the increase in atmospheric drag caused by geomagnetic storms exceeded the limits of what the satellite was designed to withstand, or whether SpaceX mistakenly believed that the satellite could withstand such drag. He said that from what SpaceX said, they didn’t expect to have to deal with such atmospheric drag, “as if they didn’t pay attention to space weather forecasts.”

SpaceX moves to beam Starlink internet into trucks, boats, and aircraft -  The Verge

CNN quoted Bill Murta, program coordinator at the Center for Space Weather Prediction, as saying that people in charge of satellite launches usually pay close attention to space weather before launch, but different companies judge whether space weather affects the criteria for launching. different.

SpaceX has yet to respond to media inquiries about the company’s assessment of space weather prior to launch.

【Loss unknown】

The economic damage caused by the incident is unclear. SpaceX has not disclosed the cost of Starlink satellites. According to CNN, company president Gwen Shotwell said in 2019 that each satellite would cost well under $1 million.

According to Reuters, the “Starlink” project previously planned to launch 12,000 low-altitude orbit satellites into space between 2019 and 2024 to build a network to provide Internet services, and then increased the planned number to about 30,000.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, posted on social media on January 15 that the “Starlink” project has nearly 1,500 satellites in operation, and another 272 satellites are on their way to predetermined orbits.

SpaceX: Starlink satellite internet service has over 10,000 users

Before the “Starlink” satellite reaches the predetermined orbit, it will undergo preliminary testing at a lower altitude. If there is a problem, it will re-enter the earth’s atmosphere under the operation of ground controllers and burn up in the process, so as not to interfere with other satellites. SpaceX said it’s rare for a satellite to reveal problems at this stage, and the step was arranged just in case.