The second flight test of Starship and Super Heavy achieved a number of important milestones as we continue to advance the capabilities of the most powerful launch system ever developed.

On November 18, 2023, Starship successfully lifted off at 7:02 a.m. CT from Starbase in Texas. All 33 Raptor engines on the Super Heavy Booster started up successfully and, for the first time, completed a full-duration burn during ascent. Starship then executed a successful hot-stage separation, the first time this technique has been done successfully with a vehicle of this size.

Following stage separation, Super Heavy initiated its boostback burn, which sends commands to 13 of the vehicle’s 33 Raptor engines to propel the rocket toward its intended landing location. During this burn, several engines began shutting down before one engine failed energetically, quickly cascading to a rapid unscheduled disassembly (RUD) of the booster. The vehicle breakup occurred more than three and a half minutes into the flight at an altitude of ~90 km over the Gulf of Mexico.

The most likely root cause for the booster RUD was determined to be filter blockage where liquid oxygen is supplied to the engines, leading to a loss of inlet pressure in engine oxidizer turbopumps that eventually resulted in one engine failing in a way that resulted in loss of the vehicle. SpaceX has since implemented hardware changes inside future booster oxidizer tanks to improve propellant filtration capabilities and refined operations to increase reliability.

At vehicle separation, Starship’s upper stage successfully lit all six Raptor engines and flew a normal ascent until approximately seven minutes into the flight, when a planned vent of excess liquid oxygen propellant began. Additional propellant had been loaded on the spacecraft before launch in order to gather data representative of future payload deploy missions and needed to be disposed of prior to reentry to meet required propellant mass targets at splashdown.

A leak in the aft section of the spacecraft that developed when the liquid oxygen vent was initiated resulted in a combustion event and subsequent fires that led to a loss of communication between the spacecraft’s flight computers. This resulted in a commanded shut down of all six engines prior to completion of the ascent burn, followed by the Autonomous Flight Safety System detecting a mission rule violation and activating the flight termination system, leading to vehicle breakup. The flight test’s conclusion came when the spacecraft was as at an altitude of ~150 km and a velocity of ~24,000 km/h, becoming the first Starship to reach outer space.

SpaceX has implemented hardware changes on upcoming Starship vehicles to improve leak reduction, fire protection, and refined operations associated with the propellant vent to increase reliability. The previously planned move from a hydraulic steering system for the vehicle’s Raptor engines to an entirely electric system also removes potential sources of flammability.

The water-cooled flame deflector and other pad upgrades made after Starship’s first flight test performed as expected, requiring minimal post-launch work to be ready for vehicle tests and the next integrated flight test. Following the flight test, SpaceX led the investigation efforts with oversight from the FAA and participation from NASA, and the National Transportation and Safety Board.

Upgrades derived from the flight test will debut on the next Starship and Super Heavy vehicles to launch from Starbase on Flight 3. SpaceX is also implementing planned performance upgrades, including the debut of a new electronic Thrust Vector Control system for Starship’s upper stage Raptor engines and improving the speed of propellant loading operations prior to launch.

More Starships are ready to fly, putting flight hardware in a flight environment to learn as quickly as possible. Recursive improvement is essential as we work to build a fully reusable launch system capable of carrying satellites, payloads, crew, and cargo to a variety of orbits and Earth, lunar, or Martian landing sites.

Source: SpaceX

Washington DC, January 31, 2024 — Starlab Space LLC (Starlab Space), the transatlantic joint venture between Voyager Space and Airbus, today announced the selection of SpaceX to launch the Starlab commercial space station to low-Earth orbit (LEO). Starship, SpaceX’s fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond, will launch Starlab in a single mission prior to the decommissioning of the International Space Station.

“SpaceX’s history of success and reliability led our team to select Starship to orbit Starlab,” said Dylan Taylor, Chairman and CEO, Voyager Space. “SpaceX is the unmatched leader for high-cadence launches and we are proud Starlab will be launched to orbit in a single flight by Starship.”

As a continuously crewed, free-flying space station, Starlab will serve a global customer base of space agencies, researchers, and companies, ensuring a continued human presence in LEO and a seamless transition of microgravity research from the International Space Station into the new commercial space station era. Starlab will launch on a single flight, be fully outfitted on the ground, and ready to permanently host four crew members in LEO to conduct microgravity research and advanced scientific discovery.

“Starlab’s single-launch solution continues to demonstrate not only what is possible, but how the future of commercial space is happening now,” said Tom Ochinero, Senior Vice President of Commercial Business at SpaceX. “The SpaceX team is excited for Starship to launch Starlab to support humanity’s continued presence in low-Earth orbit on our way to making life multiplanetary.”

The Starlab team has advanced through multiple program milestones over the past year, including completion of the Systems Requirements Review, System Definition Review, Human in the Loop testing, and more. Starlab Space recently announced a teaming agreement with Northrop Grumman and plans to collaborate with the European Space Agency. Additional Starlab partners include Hilton Hotels and The Ohio State University.

About Starlab Space

Starlab Space LLC is a transatlantic joint venture between Voyager Space and Airbus that is designing, building, and will operate the Starlab commercial space station. Starlab will serve a global customer base of space agencies, researchers, and companies, ensuring a continued human presence in low-Earth orbit and a seamless transition of microgravity science and research from the International Space Station into the new commercial space station era.

Source: Voyager Space

MOLINE, Illinois (January 16, 2024) — Deere & Company (NYSE: DE) announced it has entered into an agreement with SpaceX to provide cutting-edge satellite communications (SATCOM) service to farmers. Utilizing the industry-leading Starlink network, this solution will allow farmers facing rural connectivity challenges to fully leverage precision agriculture technologies. This partnership, an industry first, will enable John Deere customers to be more productive, profitable, and sustainable in their operations as they continue to provide food, fuel, and fiber for their communities and a growing global population.

“The value of connectivity to farmers is broader than any single task or action. Connectivity unlocks vast opportunities that were previously limited or unavailable,” said Aaron Wetzel, Vice President of Production and Precision Ag Production Systems at John Deere. “For example, throughout the year, farmers must complete tasks within extremely short windows of time. This requires executing incredibly precise production steps while coordinating between machines and managing machine performance. Each of these areas are enhanced through connectivity, making the entire operation more efficient, effective, and profitable.”

The SATCOM solution will connect both new and existing machines through satellite internet service and ruggedized satellite terminals. This will fully enable technologies such as autonomy, real-time data sharing, remote diagnostics, enhanced self-repair solutions, and machine-to-machine communication, all of which help farmers work more efficiently while minimizing downtime.

“John Deere has led the agriculture equipment industry for more than two decades with satellite-based precision guidance technology,” said Jahmy Hindman, Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer at John Deere. “Now, we are bringing satellite communications service to the farm at scale so farmers with cellular coverage challenges can maximize the value of connectivity to their operations. The SATCOM solution unlocks the John Deere tech stack so every farmer can fully utilize their current precision agriculture technology in addition to the new innovative solutions they will deploy in the future. We initiated this process with a fierce focus on delivering value to our customers, and this partnership ensures we have a solution that meets their needs today and in the future.”

John Deere’s SATCOM solution will leverage SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet constellation. To activate this solution, John Deere dealers will install a ruggedized Starlink terminal on compatible machines, along with a 4G LTE JDLink modem to connect the machine to the John Deere Operations Center. The SATCOM solution will initially be available through a limited release in the United States and Brazil starting in the second half of 2024.

About Deere & Company

Deere & Company (www.JohnDeere.com) is a global leader in the delivery of agricultural, construction, and forestry equipment. We help our customers push the boundaries of what’s possible in ways that are more productive and sustainable to help life leap forward. Our technology-enabled products including John Deere Autonomous 8R Tractor, See & Spray™, and E-Power Backhoe are just some of the ways we help meet the world's increasing need for food, shelter, and infrastructure. Deere & Company also provides financial services through John Deere Financial.

Source: John Deere

On Monday, January 8, the Starlink team successfully sent and received our first text messages using T-Mobile network spectrum through one of our new Direct to Cell satellites launched six days prior. Connecting cell phones to satellites has several major challenges to overcome. For example, in terrestrial networks cell towers are stationary, but in a satellite network they move at tens of thousands of miles per hour relative to users on Earth. This requires seamless handoffs between satellites and accommodations for factors like Doppler shift and timing delays that challenge phone to space communications. Cell phones are also incredibly difficult to connect to satellites hundreds of kilometers away given a mobile phone’s low antenna gain and transmit power. Starlink satellites with the Direct to Cell payload are equipped with innovative new custom silicon, phased array antennas, and advanced software algorithms that overcome these challenges and provide standard LTE service to cell phones on the ground. As the global leader in rocket and satellite launch and manufacturing, SpaceX is uniquely positioned to rapidly scale our Direct to Cell network and will rapidly launch a constellation of hundreds of satellites to enable text service in 2024 and voice, data, and Internet of Things (IoT) services in 2025.

On January 2, 2024, we launched to orbit our first six Starlink satellites with Direct to Cell capabilities. Launch and early tests of the technology were all completed without issue. On Monday, January 8, less than 6 days after launch, we sent and received our first text messages to and from unmodified cell phones on the ground to our new satellites in space using TMobile network spectrum. This validates that our link budget closes, and the system works!

The Direct to Cell network will expand Starlink’s vision by providing ubiquitous connectivity and seamless access to text, voice, and data for LTE phones and devices across the globe. Text service begins this year, followed by voice, data, and Internet of Things (IoT) services in 2025. Developing a satellite network that connects to unmodified cell phones presents several new technical and regulatory challenges beyond those Starlink has already overcome in deploying a 5,000+ satellite constellation in a few years, serving more than 2.3 million customers across the globe. The first challenge is transmitting sufficiently strong radio signals to and from cell phones that were not designed to connect to satellites, with very low gain antennas and transmit power (max 0.2 Watts). Our team developed custom silicon onboard the satellite that is optimized for this application and reduces power and cost on the satellite. We also developed large 2.7 m x 2.3 m advanced phased arrays that use extremely sensitive radio receivers and high-powered transmitters for communicating with cell phones from space. The antennas were designed to ride on the Starlink v2mini satellites and are reliably launched and deployed to low-Earth orbit every few days by the Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX is uniquely positioned to rapidly scale out our first Direct to Cell constellation in mere months, due to our unique and unprecedented vertical integration controlling both launch and satellite production in addition to operations. In the future, we will launch Direct to Cell satellites on Starship to improve the service even further and increase our launch cadence.

Since our vision is to connect everyone using their existing phones without needing a new phone, upgrades, or a special app, we decided to use standard LTE/4G protocols. Our satellites orbit hundreds of kilometers above the Earth’s surface at speeds of 7.7 km/s. As a result, compatibility with LTE timing, Doppler, and latency constraints are extremely challenging. For the vehicles to perform like a true cell tower in space, handoffs between vehicles and on the ground must be completely seamless to the user. To accomplish this, we architected the system including satellite altitudes, beam size and placement, elevation angles, and number of satellites, such that we are just at the edge of physics where LTE is achievable and reliable. We fly an advanced LTE modem onboard each satellite that operates like a cell tower in space.

The Direct to Cell network leverages the infrastructure we’ve built for Starlink over the past several years. Direct to Cell satellites plug into the existing Starlink satellite constellation via laser backhaul; meaning even our early satellites can provide services anywhere with regulatory approvals without requiring dedicated ground infrastructure. We also leverage all the existing networking, ground stations, and Points of Presence (PoPs) Starlink has developed. The Direct to Cell data travels over Starlink’s core directly to the operator’s core, providing a seamless integration.

In August 2022, we announced our first partnership with T-Mobile, and have since announced deals with Rogers in Canada, Optus in Australia, One New Zealand, KDDI in Japan, Salt in Switzerland, and Entel in Chile & Peru. The operators provide critical LTE spectrum in the 1.6- 2.7 GHz range that we use to transmit our satellite signals. This allows Starlink to integrate like a standard roaming partner with operators, and together we provide services directly and seamlessly to their customers. Operators in our network have access to reciprocal global access that allows their users to access the service when they travel to one of our partner countries. There is incredible demand and high interest in this program, and handset providers and mobile operators alike are eager to test and participate in a successful rollout. We worked closely with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to obtain initial authority to launch and test our satellites in record time, and we will continue to work with them to find innovative ways to connect people and save lives in emergencies. We are working closely with regulators around the world to bring this service to their countries as soon as possible.

This year, we look forward to expanding our testing to include greater coverage; launching hundreds of satellites to enable our text constellation; working toward our voice, data, and IoT constellation in 2025; and expanding our global footprint.

Starlink

Source: SpaceX

Ovzons proprietary developed satellite Ovzon 3 has now successfully been launched from SpaceX Cape Canaveral launch site in Florida, USA. Ovzon 3 will enter into service by mid-year 2024, when it has reached its orbital position.

Ovzon 3 is a revolutionary geostationary communications satellite. It is the first in its class of communications satellites that has been specifically designed and developed to provide the highest degree of performance, mobility and resiliency – offering superior performance for all mission critical assignments.

"We are immensely proud of the fact that Ovzon 3 is the first privately funded and developed Swedish geostationary communications satellite ever to be launched. The close teamwork with our partners Maxar and SpaceX has, despite delays and unfortunate circumstances in the wake of the pandemic, come to fruition, and we are grateful to all the people working relentlessly together to design, build, finalize, and launch the satellite in the last couple of years. Nevertheless, as always when working in space many risks still remain before the satellite has entered into service. I would also, sincerely, like to express my gratitude to our long-term shareholders who have supported us in every step of this journey. We now preparing for Ovzon’s next chapter, with all the capabilities in our hands to enable our customers to fully take advantage of Ovzon’s unique SATCOM-as-a-Service solutions”, says Per Norén, CEO of Ovzon.

About Ovzon

Ovzon offers world-leading mobile satellite communications services, SATCOM-as-a-Service, to customers across the globe. The services combine high data speed with high mobility. Ovzon's SATCOM-as-a-Service meets the growing demand for global connectivity for customers with high performance and security requirements such as Defense, Emergency Services, NGOs, Media and Commercial organizations. Ovzon was founded in 2006 and has offices in Stockholm, Sweden, Herndon, VA and Tampa, FL in the USA. Ovzon is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm Mid Cap.

Source: Ovzon

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