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SpaceX launches the first of its 12,000 planned Internet satellites

By William Gayde ยท 31 replies
Feb 22, 2018
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  1. SpaceX was once again back on the launch pad early Thursday morning with their Falcon 9 rocket. Today's launch was the beginning of their planned 12,000 satellite constellation which will beam Internet down to almost anywhere on Earth.

    SpaceX received approval for the launch last week and while the main cargo of this launch was Spain's Paz Earth-observing satellite, SpaceX also attached two stowaways of their own. The Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b are Internet-beaming satellite prototypes which will be used to gather information about the technology needed for a global satellite Internet array.

    The long-term goal for Project Starlink is to have about 4,400 satellites orbiting 700 miles above the Earth and another 7,500 orbiting 200 miles up. With so many satellites, SpaceX should be able to provide coverage to nearly the entire planet at once. Financial projections show Starlink will have roughly 40 million subscribers by 2025 and pull in $30 billion in revenue per year.

    Since the satellites are not in geo-stationary orbit, their position relative to a user on Earth will constantly be changing. This is equivalent to moving out of range of one access point and into range of another, but at 10,000 miles per hour and with hundreds of access points. A user's device will then need to constantly calculate which satellite is best at any given time. We've all had issues with GPS connectivity and that has only 24 satellites that don't move in relation to the user.

    There is still lots of research to be done on how to accomplish this at scale but that is what today's launch will help with. If these test satellites are successful, SpaceX will then need to convince the FCC to grant them a licence for some radio spectrum. This process takes a very long time but chairman Ajit Pai has voiced his support for the project, saying:

    “Following careful review of this application by our International Bureau’s excellent satellite engineering experts, I have asked my colleagues to join me in supporting this application and moving to unleash the power of satellite constellations to provide high-speed Internet to rural Americans. If adopted, it would be the first approval given to an American-based company to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies.”

    Permalink to story.

  2. Kotters

    Kotters TS Maniac Posts: 330   +223

    Can't wait to see how this is spun negatively. It's interesting every time.
    Boilerhog146 likes this.
  3. Badvok

    Badvok TS Maniac Posts: 296   +152

    "We've all had issues with GPS connectivity and that has only 24 satellites that don't move in relation to the user." - ROFL, I thought this was supposed to be a techy site.
    mbrowne5061 likes this.
  4. briankwest

    briankwest TS Rookie

    I busted up laughing, GPS satellites move in relation to the user.
    Uncle Al likes this.
  5. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,390   +3,779

    I am envisioning shades of "Death Race 2000" .......
  6. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,966   +1,230

    Don't tell anyone....sssshhhhhhhhhhh! Once in place, they will activate the super secret
    defense shield, which will prevent asteroids & enemy aliens from getting to Earth.
    (spread that one around on Reddit...on the conspiracy sites, will make for some amusing reading
    this weekend).
    Boilerhog146 and wiyosaya like this.
  7. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,209   +670

    Even ignoring the "GPS doesn't move in relation to the user" comment, that isn't how it works at all. Each GPS satellite sends out an extremely accurate timing signal with an identifier. Your receiver then figures out its position relative to these satellites BASED on how much the deviate from one another thanks to both their position and their motion.

    GPS connectivity issues come about from not having a clear view of 3-or-more-satellites, civilian uses getting de-prioritized behind a high volume of military requests, or interference from materials that resonate at similar frequencies to the GPS signal. Connectivity issues don't come about from your receiver trying to calculate which ones are coming up over the horizon next - that is literally the opposite of how GPS works.
  8. BadThad

    BadThad TS Booster Posts: 181   +91

    No mention of the proposed speed? It's going to be slow! Hope it's worth all the extra junk in space, we already have too much.
    TempleOrion likes this.
  9. Boilerhog146

    Boilerhog146 TS Evangelist Posts: 620   +217

    then Blue Origin wants their system up there ,and so on. eventually . no one will be able to get into space for all the junk up there either,with out laser blasting a path ahead. be like a game of asteroids.only with satelites...
    I don't foresee any issues . :(
    wiyosaya likes this.
  10. Space junk.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  11. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,993   +2,292

    I could not have said it better myself. (y)

    There was an article in the Thursday, February 22, 2018 edition of The Wall Street Journal on page B7 that is, supposedly, based on an exclusive interview with SpaceX. The title is "SpaceX Throttles Back Broadband Hopes"

    As to speed, they intend to make it equivalent to the best broadband speeds presently available. However, SpaceX admits that they have a significant amount of technical details yet to work out - according to SpaceX as revealed in the interview.

    For anyone who thinks that this is a done deal, this article might be an interesting read - unless those who read it think Musk is truly a genius.
  12. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,993   +2,292

    Isn't it the Chinese that are developing that laser?
  13. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,993   +2,292

    Maybe it was a test to see if anyone was actually reading the article. ;)
  14. Boilerhog146

    Boilerhog146 TS Evangelist Posts: 620   +217

    As I see it ,everyone will need a laser mounted up front. so, whoever gets it first , the Chinese ,or the americans, the biggest economies .usually first at every thing else.
  15. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,969   +4,004

    Yes, IIRC the Chinese "volunteered" to put laser equipped satellites into orbit. I think the pretense was to "protect us from space junk".

    Back to topic, anywhere but here, Elon Musk in bed with Ajit Pai, would, (and rightfully should), set off so many alarms and raise so many red flags, it should set off a congressional investigation as well.

    Of course, Elon Musk, being the "scientific genius" that he is, would be paid to launch 12,000 boosters. But that OK, because he can do it cheaper than anybody.

    I can see Ajit & Elon, laying in bed lighting one another's cigarettes after this escapade.

    And really, what effect could launching 12,000 high powered rocket boosters have on the environment?

    Not to worry about it kidz, Musk will make any environmental impact up to you, when you buy a Tesla from him.
  16. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,969   +4,004

    No, most GPS data, is collected from satellites which are in Geo synchronous orbits, which don't change position relative to the earth, and by extension, don't change change position in relation the the user.

    I know you're likely the center of your own little universe, but trust me, nobody put a satellite into orbit, to follow you, or your cell phone around.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2018
  17. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,396   +5,020

    Beat me to it. I was going to comment on the 12,000 targets for China.
  18. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,969   +4,004

    The scary part is, by the time they got done shooting all of Musk's space junk down, they'll be really, really good, at shooting down things that do matter...:eek:
    Boilerhog146 and cliffordcooley like this.
  19. Boilerhog146

    Boilerhog146 TS Evangelist Posts: 620   +217

    next ,just like restricting airspace, space space will be restricted,china is not gonna go for anyone else's satellites in orbit above them.and I see other countries taking a similar stance..I hope I'm around for the fireworks ,and shooting stars ,er satellites.
  20. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,969   +4,004

    Beings as this is Saturday night, I'm not going to let you bait me into one of my long winded responses. But trust me, there's a lot there which should be discussed, if only to try and get some people on the same page about those issues. Not that I believe for one minute, talking about anything in this forum, could possibly solve anything in a wider venue.:D
    Boilerhog146 and holdum323 like this.
  21. holdum323

    holdum323 Banned Posts: 1,721   +455

    I'm very disappointed that you are not going to post one of your long winded responses @captaincranky . I was looking forward to that.
    It is possible that some thing will be solved on this forum tonight, but who's knows where and when that will take place.
    I like Saturday nights here on TS . I like Sunday nights and Monday through Friday nights and day time also. ROFL
  22. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,396   +5,020

    Let him catch his breath from his last post. Jeez, he is not as young as he used to be. :)
    Boilerhog146 and holdum323 like this.
  23. holdum323

    holdum323 Banned Posts: 1,721   +455

    ROFL. You made my day friend. How old is he?
  24. Boilerhog146

    Boilerhog146 TS Evangelist Posts: 620   +217

    He's old enough I'd say..

    at least it will be on topic. :p , I like the informative posts. saves me going and lookin it up.
    we could probably come up with some solutions ,finding someone to acknowledge them might be a bit tricky.
    The u.s has sovereignty on the moon ,don't ya? should get a shack with a couple security up there .just to keep an eye on that little flag.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
    holdum323 likes this.
  25. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,396   +5,020

    You will have to ask him. I don't know his exact age. I do know he grew up with his father working on B&W TVs.
    holdum323 likes this.

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