SpaceX receives approval to launch satellites capable of offering broadband internet

By Greg S ยท 12 replies
Feb 15, 2018
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  1. Following the successful launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket, SpaceX has kept celebrations short and is back to work on the next conversion of science fiction to reality. The next major goal is deploying a network of thousands of satellites that could offer high-speed internet around the world. Approval has been granted for two test satellites that could be used as part of a massive network.

    There are still over 14 million Americans that lack access to internet services of any kind, and many more countries that could greatly benefit from stable internet access. SpaceX may have name recognition on its side, but the FCC is also approving similar projects. Telesat has already launched a prototype satellite on behalf of the Indian Space Research Organization and has plans to ramp up to 120 satellites in orbit by 2021.

    SpaceX is likely unphased by small competition. By 2024, over 4,000 of its own satellites could be operational and providing high-speed internet access. Putting satellites into low earth orbit is expensive no matter how it is done, but SpaceX has a proven advantage in this regard. Test satellites will be deployed using refurbished Falcon 9 rockets that have been proven reliable after several launches.

    The launch of the two experimental satellites is set for February 17 from California. In addition to the broadband-capable satellites, the main payload is the PAZ satellite for Hisdesat of Spain, which will be used for national security and defense. Multiple secondary payloads will also be on board the rocket, but no further details were provided.

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  2. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 2,228   +996

    They would like have to take you out back and shoot you if they told you. ;)

    It remains to be seen whether this will be much better than existing services like HughestNet or how much it will cost for the service, how much the required equipment will cost, and so on.

    One thing is for sure, it will be 4,000 more pieces of stuff floating around in space that space explorers will have to avoid - assuming it gets that far.
  3. senketsu

    senketsu TS Guru Posts: 478   +299

    this is currently a very serious problem. The ISS and working satellites already have to be maneuvered regularly to avoid collisions. We need to find ways to get the junk out before there is a collision triggering the Kessler effect.
    Orbital Debris Program Office - NASA Earth Observatory - Image made from models used to track debris in earth orbit

    NASA image - NASA Orbital Debris Program Office, photo gallery
    Debris plot by NASA. A computer-generated image of objects in Earth orbit that are currently being tracked. Approximately 95% of the objects in this illustration are orbital debris, I.e., not functional satellites. The dots represent the current location of each item. The orbital debris dots are scaled according to the image size of the graphic to optimize their visibility and are not scaled to Earth. The image provides a good visualization of where the greatest orbital debris populations exist. This image is generated from a distant oblique vantage point to provide a good view of the object population in the geosynchronous region (around 35,785 km altitude). Note the larger population of objects over the northern hemisphere is due mostly to Russian objects in high-inclination, high-eccentricity orbits.

    wiyosaya likes this.
  4. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Addict Posts: 167   +65

    Hughesnet sucks. Expensive and slow
  5. Joe Blow

    Joe Blow Banned Posts: 216   +74

    They should focus on this versus wasting time trying to send humans out through the deadly radiation belts. On that note, how would any manned spaceship attempt to make it out without colliding with one of these objects?
  6. Boilerhog146

    Boilerhog146 TS Evangelist Posts: 571   +191

    Maybe they should put the satellite in the car ,they have no problem getting a car into space ,satellites have proven to be a bit tougher. I see more crashes coming.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,354   +2,893

    My understanding is, it that these satellites are going into low earth orbit, instead of geocentric orbit. Which means each individual satellite will be over a few degrees of the earth's surface for a limited period of time. So, the end game is to put 121 of these up in a string, for uninterrupted access. Still, you have to wonder if one goes out, do they all do out, or is there enough redundancy and line of sight from orbit, to immediately correct for it. It ain't hardwired like FIOS, that's for sure.

    This launch is supposedly for a Spanish telecom.. If it is successful, eyebrows will go up, particularly mine, about the lost top secret satellite failure, of US origin. That was a 1/2 billion dollar screwup, using taxpayer funds, and needs to be scrutinized with more transparency, no matter where, or upon who, the blame may fall.
    Boilerhog146 and JaredTheDragon like this.
  8. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Maniac Posts: 305   +176

    Except that objects in orbit are already moving the same speed, by definition of orbit. There's not collision when they are in the same orbit. Only lowering or raising orbits (decreasing or increasing speeds) can cause high-velocity collisions.

    "Gravity" was a fun movie but it's fake. That's not how orbits work at all. You can't just run into an object on the same orbit that you're on, since you're going the same speed and at the same vector already - that's what an orbit is in the first place.

    Sci-fi is cool and all but these things should be common knowledge already.
  9. senketsu

    senketsu TS Guru Posts: 478   +299

    Actually I have read articles and watched (some from NASA) stuff about this and the Kessler effect is a very real concern. None of what I was thinking of came from things like the movie Gravity or some Sci-fi. The problem is the dead satellites and debris and their sheer number.
    As I mentioned already, working sattelites are monitored and regularly have to have their orbits adjusted to avoid collision and the astronauts in the ISS have had to go into the capsule (sorry, I can't remember which bit of the ISS) or maneuver it to lower the risk of collision.
    These satellites and abandoned boosters and space junk are not all like some points on a line all happily spaced out and moving along. There are boosters, dead sattelites, bits of destroyed satellites (the Chinese test of an anti-satellite weapon) and on and on. They (NASA) said even a fleck of paint travelling at speeds enough to stay in orbit will cause devastation if it hits the ISS.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  10. Gars

    Gars TS Booster Posts: 236

    Lol - SpyCex
  11. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 2,228   +996

    The satellites will have different orbits from things like the ISS, etc., and that, in turn, makes a collision possible between one of these satellites and the ISS, or some other of the significant number of objects already in space in orbits that differ from the orbits of these satellites. The problem is exacerbated any time any entity launches another object into space. Like senketsu stated, there is a very large number of pieces of junk orbiting the Earth right now.

    The problem is not the collision of the satellites with each other, unless someone screws something up, the problem is the possibility of collision with objects in differing orbits.

    Gravity made for great sci-fi, but probably over estimated the possibility of survival. Orbital speeds are significant, and collision of any orbiting object with another orbiting object would likely destroy, completely, both - or at the very least, break each object into a very large number of pieces which would then become an even larger problem.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
    Boilerhog146 and senketsu like this.
  12. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Maniac Posts: 305   +176

    I hear you both, so it sounds like we're talking about highly elliptical orbits intersecting with highly circular orbits. That is definitely possible.

    What I was saying is that objects on the same orbit cannot collide with much velocity at all, since to maintain that orbit they have to already have the same velocity in the first place. We could however still be talking about car-crash speeds, which might easily be enough to damage such devices.
  13. commanderasus

    commanderasus TS Addict Posts: 209   +77

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