SpaceX Apologizes to Customers for Starlink Shipping Delays

SpaceX has apologized to customers for delays in the delivery of their Starlink internet kit. In a message posted on Twitter on Tuesday, November 23, SpaceX said that silicon shortages over the last six months have impacted its expected production rate and affected its ability to fulfill "many" Starlink orders. "We apologize for the delay and are working hard across our engineering, supply chain, and production teams to improve and streamline our product and factory to increase our production rate," the company said in its message.

Online forums contain plenty of posts by customers disappointed to see their shipping times slip by as much as a year, with some being told not to expect delivery until the end of 2022, or even early 2023. Additional complaints have come from customers who saw their original shipping dates suddenly delayed by a year or more after they responded to a message on the Starlink website asking them to update their service location on a map. Starlink, which beams internet to customers' homes from SpaceX satellites deployed in low-Earth orbit, is currently available in 20 countries.

In the U.S., people have been able to pre-order the broadband service with a payment of £99. The total cost is £549 (£499 for the hardware and £50 for shipping and handling), plus a monthly payment of £99 for the internet service itself. Customers who have had enough of waiting for their delayed shipment can obtain a full refund, including their deposit.

The company said that anyone who has pre-ordered the service can check estimated delivery times by logging into their account via the Starlink website. When a customer's Starlink kit is ready to ship, the company will send an email confirming that it's on its way. SpaceX said it recently released a new version of Starlink designed for high volume manufacturing.

The new kit has comparable performance to the original version and will start shipping globally next year, the company said. SpaceX launched a beta version of Starlink in the U.S. in October 2020. It now services customers in Canada, the U.K., Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Switzerland, Portugal, Chile, Poland, Italy, Czech Republic, Mexico, Sweden, and Croatia, and as of August had shipped more than 100,000 Starlink terminals globally.

Starlink is set to launch in 45 additional countries by the end of 2022, pending regulatory approval. The shortage of silicon -- a vital component in semiconductors -- has been caused by a slew of issues. The coronavirus pandemic, for example, led to a surge in semiconductor demand after people rushed out to buy devices to work from home.

Factories making semiconductors have also been closing temporarily in a bid to slow the spread of the virus and protect workers, putting a further strain on the supply chain.

As a result of these pressures, SpaceX is just one of numerous companies around the world affected by the silicon shortage.

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