SpaceX requests FCC permission to operate 1m 'earth stations'

Bubbajim

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Last year SpaceX successfully tested two of the microsatellites that will form the backbone of its Starlink broadband project, and in November it secured authorization to launch more than 7,000 such satellites to get the network up and running. Now comes the next part, getting permission to operate the ‘earth stations’ that will enable users to tap into that network.

In a filing to the FCC, SpaceX Services (a sister company to SpaceX) requests “a blanket license authorizing operation of up to 1,000,000 earth stations that end-user customers will utilize to communicate with SpaceX’s NGSO [non-geostationary orbit] constellation.”

While the aim ultimately is to connect people around the world who are ‘underserved or unserved’ by current internet technologies, for now SpaceX is seeking approval to operate the earth stations in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Starlink project differs from traditional satellite-based internet technologies in a few key ways. Firstly, the satellites are in low-Earth orbit, so the distance between them and receivers on the ground is shorter, and thus travel times are shorter, too. Secondly as mentioned in the filing, the satellites are in a non-geostationary orbit, meaning they are not travelling at a fixed velocity to stay in the same place relative to the Earth’s rotation.

The satellites and the earth stations also make use of two frequency bands in the electromagnetic spectrum that are not currently used in commercial satellite broadband systems (though NASA currently employs those bands to talk to the ISS among other things).

The earth stations will transmit in the range of 14.0-14.5 GHz (part of the ‘Ku band’) and receive in the range of 10.7-12.7 GHz (part of the ‘X band’).

It seems likely that SpaceX will secure authorization, given the FCC’s prior approval of the satellite part of the infrastructure – due to be launched this year. If approved, SpaceX is looking to deploy the earth stations in 2020.

Permalink to story.

 
I was kinda expecting Starlink customers to have their own satellite antennas. But now it seems that SpaceX will operate the antennas (maybe too expensive for consumer hardware?), and you will connect via a terrestrial network? And which network would this be? Do I have to have a 'last-mile' cable provider connect me to the earth station? Doesn't this defeat the entire point?

I guess that it's possible that there would be another (lower cost) wireless network connecting your home to the earth station. Maybe you would use your mobile data network for that? Wouldn't the mobile providers object, or would maybe want their 'pound of flesh' (courtesy of Commissioner 'Shylock' Pai)?

It seems that this conceptually simple idea is getting more complicated.
 
  • Like
Reactions: psycros

Ad je

TS Rookie
I was kinda expecting Starlink customers to have their own satellite antennas. But now it seems that SpaceX will operate the antennas (maybe too expensive for consumer hardware?), and you will connect via a terrestrial network? And which network would this be? Do I have to have a 'last-mile' cable provider connect me to the earth station? Doesn't this defeat the entire point?

I guess that it's possible that there would be another (lower cost) wireless network connecting your home to the earth station. Maybe you would use your mobile data network for that? Wouldn't the mobile providers object, or would maybe want their 'pound of flesh' (courtesy of Commissioner 'Shylock' Pai)?

It seems that this conceptually simple idea is getting more complicated.
They say 1000000 ground stations for the application. Maybe your cellphone, or even better for them their new phone they just sold you, counts as a "ground station".
 

mongeese

TS Maniac
Staff member
I was kinda expecting Starlink customers to have their own satellite antennas. But now it seems that SpaceX will operate the antennas (maybe too expensive for consumer hardware?), and you will connect via a terrestrial network? And which network would this be? Do I have to have a 'last-mile' cable provider connect me to the earth station? Doesn't this defeat the entire point?

I guess that it's possible that there would be another (lower cost) wireless network connecting your home to the earth station. Maybe you would use your mobile data network for that? Wouldn't the mobile providers object, or would maybe want their 'pound of flesh' (courtesy of Commissioner 'Shylock' Pai)?

It seems that this conceptually simple idea is getting more complicated.
They say 1000000 ground stations for the application. Maybe your cellphone, or even better for them their new phone they just sold you, counts as a "ground station".
I strongly suspect that you could simply purchase a very cheap antenna to attach to your phone or house or something. The ground stations are likely there to just act as repeaters so not everyone has to have one.
 

SirStephen

TS Rookie
"for now SpaceX is seeking approval to operate the earth stations in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands."

Uhh... Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands aren't some foreign country, they're part of the United States.
 

p51d007

TS Evangelist
Boy, with all the "space junk" around our planet, "aliens" probably think we have a shield
around our planet and won't even bother...that, or they have been picking up our television
signals and say why bother, no intelligent life there anyway LOL.
 

Kibaruk

TechSpot Paladin
Mighty cool.

Uhh... Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands aren't some foreign country, they're part of the United States.
Yes but technically they are not part of the "United States". It's kind of referring to an embassy they have somewhere else as US soil, yes it is, but it's not in the US.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
One of the more interesting aspects of the low orbit satellite constellation is that when the satellites fail, the low orbit chosen will pull them down to burn up in reentry. This will avoid adding more space junk.
I think that depends on perspective. While they are up there, they are still a collision hazard to any spacecraft and I suspect that due to the large numbers of them, will make it difficult to launch anything else without a targeted effort to avoid them. Thus, as I see it, one could easily call them space junk while operational.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: erickmendes

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
One of the more interesting aspects of the low orbit satellite constellation is that when the satellites fail, the low orbit chosen will pull them down to burn up in reentry. This will avoid adding more space junk.
It would be MORE impressive if they would be rendered magnetic and could "grab" a few other items of space junk and pull them to their fiery death too!
 
  • Like
Reactions: wiyosaya

pstspot

TS Rookie
"for now SpaceX is seeking approval to operate the earth stations in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands."

Uhh... Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands aren't some foreign country, they're part of the United States.
Those who didn't learn from US History classes . . . may not understand what united STATES means.

Puerto Rico is NOT one of the 50 (federated) United States, but an unincorporated US territory. The U.S. Virgin Islands are also a US territory, not a state. Natives of Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories are US citizens as far as legal rights are concerned, and can participate in primary elections, but not Federal general elections for President and Congress.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Capaill

Capaill

TS Evangelist
One of the more interesting aspects of the low orbit satellite constellation is that when the satellites fail, the low orbit chosen will pull them down to burn up in reentry. This will avoid adding more space junk.
It would be MORE impressive if they would be rendered magnetic and could "grab" a few other items of space junk and pull them to their fiery death too!
Even better if they could intercept, latch onto and destroy nuclear missiles. Let's put a few more million up! No point having missiles if they can't reach their targets. And that's how SpaceX achieved world peace. Over the US and its territories anyway.
 

Far Far Away

TS Rookie
"for now SpaceX is seeking approval to operate the earth stations in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands."
"In a filing to the FCC, SpaceX Services (a sister company to SpaceX) requests “a blanket license authorizing operation of up to 1,000,000 earth stations"

That approval is only for U.S.A. earth stations.. nothing to see with anyone in Europe, Russia, China or any other country in the rest of the world.. there FCC haven't any jurisdiction and can't give any approval.
Knowing Musk mentality, If in USA they are calculating one million users probably will be some minimalist and cheap device that will allow joint a computer or mobile phone with the network anywhere in the world.