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posted by chromas on Thursday November 01 2018, @10:59PM   Printer-friendly

Elon Musk went on firing spree over slow satellite broadband progress

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently "fired at least seven" managers in order to speed up development and testing of satellites that could provide broadband around the world, Reuters reported today.

SpaceX denied parts of the story, saying that some of those managers left of their own accord and that the firings happened over a longer period of time than Reuters claimed.

[...] Among the fired employees were SpaceX VP of Satellites Rajeev Badyal and top designer Mark Krebs, Reuters wrote. "Rajeev wanted three more iterations of test satellites," Reuters quoted one of its sources as saying. "Elon thinks we can do the job with cheaper and simpler satellites, sooner."

Reuters described a culture clash between Musk and employees hired from Microsoft, "where workers were more accustomed to longer development schedules than Musk's famously short deadlines." Badyal is a former Microsoft employee, while Krebs previously worked for Google."

Apparently, the test satellites work:

"We're using the Tintins to explore that modification," one of the SpaceX employee sources said. "They're happy and healthy and we're talking with them every time they pass a ground station, dozens of times a day."

SpaceX engineers have used the two test satellites to play online video games at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California and the Redmond office, the source said. "We were streaming 4k YouTube and playing 'Counter-Strike: Global Offensive' from Hawthorne to Redmond in the first week," the person added.

Also at SpaceNews and TechCrunch.

Related: SpaceX Deploys Broadband Test Satellites, Fails to Catch Entire Fairing
FCC Authorizes SpaceX to Provide Broadband Satellite Services
SpaceX Valued at $25 Billion... and More
SpaceX Starlink Satellite Prototypes Include Packed, Flexible Solar Arrays

Original Submission

Related Stories

SpaceX Deploys Broadband Test Satellites, Fails to Catch Entire Fairing 6 comments

SpaceX has launched the Paz satellite for a Spanish company using a Falcon 9 rocket, which also carried two secondary payloads: Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b. These are intended to test technologies needed to provide broadband Internet access from orbit:

SpaceX launched again on Thursday - this time to put a Spanish radar satellite above the Earth.

But there was a lot of interest also in the mission's secondary payloads - a couple of spacecraft the Californian rocket company will use to trial the delivery of broadband from orbit. SpaceX has big plans in this area. By sometime in the mid-2020s, it hopes to be operating more than 4,000 such satellites, linking every corner of Earth to the internet.

SpaceX projections show that the company expects its "Starlink" Internet service to have 40 million subscribers and $30 billion in revenue by 2025.

SpaceX also attempted to recover the $6 million payload fairing (nose cone) of the rocket using a specially-built "catcher's mitt" net boat called "Mr. Steven":

After launching its Falcon 9 rocket from California this morning, SpaceX used a giant net to try to recover the rocket's nose cone as it fell down in the Pacific Ocean. The first-time experiment failed, however: one of the pieces of the nose cone missed the net, which was attached to a ship, and landed intact on the sea surface instead.

[...] A typical rocket fairing doesn't have any onboard engines, however. So SpaceX has equipped its latest nose cone with a guidance system and thrusters, tiny engines that help guide the pieces through the atmosphere when they break away from the rocket. Then, as the pieces descend, they deploy thin parachute-like structures known as parafoils to slow their fall. Down at the surface, a SpaceX boat named Mr. Steven (a random name, Musk said) attempts to catch one of the fairing pieces with a giant net attached to large claw-like appendages.

SpaceX has been able to land its fairings in the ocean before, but this was the first time the company deployed Mr. Steven to catch one of the pieces. Musk noted that a fairing half missed the boat by a few hundred meters. However, the company should be able to fix the problem by making the parafoils bigger, he said.

Original Submission

FCC Authorizes SpaceX to Provide Broadband Satellite Services 27 comments

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

The Federal Communications Commission approved an application by Space Exploration Holdings, doing business as SpaceX, to provide broadband services using satellite technology in the United States and around the world. With this action, the Commission takes another step to increase high-speed broadband availability and competition in the United States.

This is the first approval of a U.S.-licensed satellite constellation to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies. SpaceX proposed a satellite system comprised of 4,425 satellites and was granted authority to use frequencies in the Ka (20/30 GHz) and Ku (11/14 GHz) bands to provide global Internet connectivity.

From Techcrunch:

The company has already launched test versions of the satellites, but the full constellation will need to go out more than two at a time. SpaceX eventually plans to launch 12,000 of the things, but this authorization is for the high-altitude group of 4,425; a separate authorization is necessary for the remaining number, since they'll be operating at a different altitude and radio frequency.

-- submitted from IRC

Original Submission

SpaceX Valued at $25 Billion... and More 18 comments

SpaceX has raised $507 million, bringing the company's valuation to about $25 billion. That makes SpaceX the third most valuable venture-backed startup behind Uber and Airbnb, and also raises Elon Musk's worth by $1.4 billion to about $21.3 billion. SpaceX will launch NASA's TESS spacecraft on Monday, and plans to launch Bangabandhu-1 on May 5 using the Block 5 version of Falcon 9.

While SpaceX is planning to launch a record 30 missions in 2018, and possibly 50 missions in upcoming years, SpaceX expects the bulk of its future revenue to come from its upcoming Starlink satellite internet service. Internal documents show an estimate of $30 billion in revenue from Starlink and $5 billion from launches by 2025.

SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell has said that the company's BFR could be used for 100-person city-to-city flights within a decade:

A lot can (and probably will) change in a decade. But the idea is that a very large rocket, capable of carrying about 100 people, could fly like an aircraft and do point-to-point travel on Earth much faster than a plane — halfway across the globe in about 30 to 40 minutes, Shotwell said, landing on a pad five to 10 kilometers outside of a city center. Shotwell estimated the ticket cost would be somewhere between economy and business class on a plane — so, likely in the thousands of dollars for transoceanic travel. "But you do it in an hour."

"I'm personally invested in this one," she said, "because I travel a lot, and I do not love to travel. And I would love to get to see my customers in Riyadh, leave in the morning and be back in time to make dinner."

How could travel by rocket cost so little? Shotwell said the efficiency would come from being fast enough to be able to operate a route a dozen or so times a day, whereas a long-haul airplane often only does one flight per day.

She also said that the company could enable a manned mission to Mars within a decade. Boeing's CEO is also "hopeful" that humans will set foot on Mars within a decade.

Finally, Elon Musk has showed off an image of the main body tool/manufacturing mold for the BFR. BFR has a height of 106 meters and diameter of 9 meters, compared to a height of 70 meters and diameter of 3.7 meters for Falcon 9.

Original Submission

SpaceX Starlink Satellite Prototypes Include Packed, Flexible Solar Arrays 9 comments

SpaceX's Starlink satellites may use unique solar array deployment mechanism

Spotted on an official SpaceX T-shirt commemorating Starlink's first two prototype satellites and corroborated through analysis of limited public photos of the spacecraft, SpaceX appears to be testing a relatively unique style of solar arrays on the first two satellites launched into orbit, known as Tintin A (Alice) and B (Bob).

It's difficult to judge anything concrete from the nature of what may be immature prototypes, but SpaceX's decision to take a major step away from its own style of solar expertise – Cargo Dragon's traditional rigid panel arrays – is almost certainly motivated by a need to push beyond the current state of the art of satellite design and production.

Unlike any discernible solar panel deployment mechanism with a flight history, SpaceX's Starlink engineers seem to have taken a style of deployment used successfully on the International Space Station and mixed it with a modern style of solar arrays, relying on several flexible panels that can be efficiently packed together and designed to be extremely lightweight. While a major departure from SpaceX's successful Cargo Dragon solar arrays, the mechanisms visible on the Tintins seem to have the potential to improve upon the packing efficiency, ease of manufacturing, and number of failure modes present on Dragon's panels.

[...] To give an idea of where the industry currently stands, satellite internet provider Viasat launched its own Viasat-2 spacecraft in 2017. Weighing in around 6500 kg (14300 lb), the immense satellite cost at least $600 million and offers an instantaneous bandwidth of 300 gigabits per second, impressive but also gobsmackingly expensive at $2 million/Gbps. To ever hope to make Starlink a reality, SpaceX will need to beat that value by at least a factor of 5-10, producing Starlink satellites for no more than $1-3 million apiece ($4.5B-$13.5B alone to manufacture the initial 4,425 satellite constellation) with a bandwidth of 20 Gbps – baselined in official statements.

"Starlink is a satellite constellation development project underway by SpaceX, to develop a low-cost, high-performance satellite bus and requisite customer ground transceivers to implement a new space-based Internet communication system. By 2017, SpaceX had submitted regulatory filings to launch a total of nearly 12,000 satellites to orbit by the mid-2020s."

Previously: SpaceX Deploys Broadband Test Satellites, Fails to Catch Entire Fairing
SpaceX Valued at $25 Billion... and More

Original Submission

U.S. Air Force Awards SpaceX $28.7 Million to Study Military Applications of Starlink 5 comments

SpaceX's Starlink eyed by US military as co. raises $500-750M for development

In a reasonably predictable turn of events, SpaceX has been awarded a healthy $28.7M contract to study, develop, and test possible military applications of its prospective Starlink internet satellite constellation.

Previously reported by Teslarati in August 2018, FCC applications related to Starlink revealed that SpaceX had plans to develop and test Starlink interconnectivity with conformal antenna arrays installed on aircraft, all but directly pointing to military involvement with a reference to the need for aerial maneuvers "[representative] of a high-performance aircraft."

Around the same time as those FCC documents surfaced, the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) spoke with AviationWeek about plans to experiment with the potential capabilities offered by a flurry of proposed low Earth orbit (LEO) internet satellite constellations, including the likes of SpaceX's Starlink, OneWeb, a Telesat network, and others. While no specific companies were fingered in AFRL's public statements, it was far too convenient to be a coincidence. Four months later, the below transaction was published in the Department of Defense's running list of new contract awards:

"[SpaceX], Hawthorne, California, has been awarded a $28,713,994 competitive, firm-fixed-price ... agreement for experimentation ... in the areas of establishing connectivity [and] operational experimentation ... [and] will include connectivity demonstrations to Air Force ground sites and aircraft for experimental purposes. For the proposed Phase 2, the awardee proposes to perform experiments [with] early versions of a commercial space-to-space data relay service and mobile connectivity directly from space to aircraft." – Department of Defense, FBO FA8650-17-S-9300

Previously: FCC Authorizes SpaceX to Provide Broadband Satellite Services
SpaceX Starlink Satellite Prototypes Include Packed, Flexible Solar Arrays
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Fired Managers and Employees in June to Shake Up Starlink Project
Elon Musk's SpaceX Is Raising $500 Million in Funding; Now Valued at $30.5 Billion

Original Submission

SpaceX to Lay Off 10% of its Workforce 24 comments

SpaceX to lay off 10% of its Workforce:

SpaceX, citing a need to get "leaner," said Friday it will lay off more than 10% of its roughly 6,000 employees.

[...] "To continue delivering for our customers and to succeed in developing interplanetary spacecraft and a global space-based internet, SpaceX must become a leaner company," the Hawthorne-based company said in a statement. "Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organizations. This means we must part ways with some talented and hardworking members of our team."

[...] SpaceX makes most of its money from commercial and national security satellite launches, as well as two NASA contracts, one a multibillion-dollar deal to deliver cargo to the International Space Station and the other up to $2.6 billion to develop a capsule that will deliver astronauts to the space station. The first launch of that capsule, without a crew, is planned for February.

The Elon Musk-led company has even more ambitious — and expensive — plans. Musk has said SpaceX will conduct a "hopper test" of its Mars spaceship prototype as early as next month. The production version of that spaceship and its rocket system is expected to cost billions.

Earlier this month, privately held SpaceX said it raised about $273 million in equity and other securities in an offering that sought to raise about $500 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company is worth $31 billion, according to Equidate, which tracks private-company valuations.

In May, Shotwell told CNBC that the company is profitable and has had "many years" of profitability.

There's an old adage about making something: "Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick two." Is SpaceX trying to pick all three?

Related: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Fired Managers and Employees in June to Shake Up Starlink Project
Elon Musk's SpaceX Is Raising $500 Million in Funding; Now Valued at $30.5 Billion

Original Submission

SpaceX Seeks Approval for 1 Million Starlink Ground Stations, Faces Pentagon Audit 15 comments

SpaceX seeks FCC OK for 1 million satellite broadband Earth stations

SpaceX is seeking US approval to deploy up to 1 million Earth stations to receive transmissions from its planned satellite broadband constellation.

The Federal Communications Commission last year gave SpaceX permission to deploy 11,943 low-Earth orbit satellites for the planned Starlink system. A new application from SpaceX Services, a sister company, asks the FCC for "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."

The application was published by, a third-party site that tracks FCC filings. GeekWire reported the news on Friday. An FCC spokesperson confirmed to Ars today that SpaceX filed the application on February 1, 2019.

If each end-user Earth station provides Internet service to one building, SpaceX could eventually need authorization for more than 1 million stations in the US. SpaceX job listings describe the user terminal as "a high-volume manufactured product customers will have in their homes."

SpaceX's First Dedicated Starlink Launch Set for May; Amazon Hired SpaceX Execs for Project Kuiper 7 comments

SpaceX's first batch of operational Starlink satellites will launch no earlier than May 2019:

SpaceX has announced a launch target of May 2019 for the first batch of operational Starlink satellites in a sign that the proposed internet satellite constellation has reached a major milestone, effectively transitioning from pure research and development to serious manufacturing.

R&D will continue as SpaceX Starlink engineers work to implement the true final design of the first several hundred or thousand spacecraft, but a significant amount of the team's work will now be centered on producing as many Starlink satellites as possible, as quickly as possible. With anywhere from 4400 to nearly 12,000 satellites needed to complete the three major proposed phases of Starlink, SpaceX will have to build and launch more than 2200 satellites in the next five years, averaging 44 high-performance, low-cost spacecraft built and launched every month for the next 60 months.

[...] According to SpaceX filings with the FCC, the first group of operational satellites – potentially anywhere from 75 to 1000 or more – will rely on just one band ("Ku") for communications instead of the nominal two ("Ku" and "Ka"), a change that SpaceX says will significantly simplify the first spacecraft. By simplifying them, SpaceX believes it can expedite Starlink's initial deployment without losing a great deal of performance or interfering with constellations from competitors like OneWeb.

Amazon's planned 3,236-satellite broadband constellation, Project Kuiper, is being developed by former SpaceX employees:

Amazon's satellite internet plan is increasingly looking like the one Elon Musk has at SpaceX, with thousands of spacecraft that are compact in size. Among the reasons for the similarities, people tell CNBC, is that Jeff Bezos has hired some of Musk's previous senior management.

Former SpaceX vice president of satellites Rajeev Badyal and a couple members of his team are now leading Amazon's Project Kuiper, people familiar with the situation told CNBC.

[...] Badyal previously ran the "Starlink" division at SpaceX, which launched its first two test satellites last year. [...] Musk fired Badyal in June, one of the people said, confirming reports last year that the SpaceX CEO had become frustrated with the pace of Starlink's development. That was about four months after the launch of the first two Starlink test satellites. According to FCC documents, Starlink will become operational once at least 800 satellites are deployed.

Previously: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Fired Managers and Employees in June to Shake Up Starlink Project
SpaceX Seeks Approval for 1 Million Starlink Ground Stations, Faces Pentagon Audit
SpaceX and OneWeb Clash Over Proposed Satellite Constellation Orbits

Related: Relativity Space Selected to Launch Satellites for Telesat

Original Submission

SpaceX to Become World's Largest Satellite Operator; Launch, Booster Landing Successful [UPDATED] 18 comments

[UPDATE (20200107_023514 UTC): Launch went off smoothly and on time. Booster landed safely on the drone ship. Second stage is in proper orbit and currently in coast phase leading up to satellite deployment.]

With Monday night launch, SpaceX to become world's largest satellite operator:

In 2019 SpaceX launched two batches of 60 Starlink satellites—one experimental, and the second operational. On Monday, the company plans to add 60 more satellites with a nighttime launch of the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

If all goes to plan, this mission will be just the first of as many as 20 Starlink launches this year as SpaceX builds up a constellation of satellites in low-Earth orbit to provide global Internet service. SpaceX may begin to offer "bumpy" service by the middle of this year to some consumers.

Following this next launch, scheduled for 9:19pm ET Monday (02:19 UTC Tuesday), SpaceX will have a constellation of nearly 180 satellites in low-Earth orbit, each weighing a little more than 220kg. This will make the company simultaneously the world's largest private satellite operator (eclipsing Planet Labs), while also being the most active private launch company.

[...] Monday night's launch attempt will occur on a Falcon 9 first stage that has flown three times previously, in September 2018 (Telstar 18 VANTAGE), January 2019 (Iridium-8), and May 2019 (the first experimental Starlink mission). After launching, the first stage will land on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. Another vessel, "Ms. Tree," will attempt to recover a payload fairing half. The Starlink satellites themselves will deploy at 61 minutes into the mission, at an altitude of 290km.

A webcast of the mission should begin about 15 minutes prior to launch.

Link to the YouTube webcast.


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  • (Score: 1) by Sulla on Thursday November 01 2018, @11:12PM (2 children)

    by Sulla (5173) on Thursday November 01 2018, @11:12PM (#756660) Journal

    Someone probably told something was impossible. I have seen a few articles recently where this is sure to get you fired by Musk and replaced by someone who won't tell him its impossible.

    Ceterum censeo Sinae esse delendam
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by KilroySmith on Friday November 02 2018, @12:26AM (1 child)

      by KilroySmith (2113) on Friday November 02 2018, @12:26AM (#756680)

      When your resume includes:
      1. Building a new car company from the ground up that's expected to build half-a-million cars next year
          a. Which are, by the way, all electric
          b. And have kick ass performance As in, out accelerate every other production vehicle.
          c. And building a Battery Factory that builds as many batteries as the rest of the world combined
          d. And placing 1200 superchargers around the US to make high-speed charging ubiquitous (50 hours from LA to NY).
      2. Simultaneously, building a military/commercial rocket and launch services company that has obsoleted every existing space-going rocket worldwide.
          a. And building reusable boosters that turn around in months, intending to reduce that to days.
          b. And soft-landing those reusable boosters next to the launch pad
          c. And taking the most spectacular photo of a car ever seen.
          d. And being in the running to beat every other country in the world to send a human to Mars.

      At that point, I think his concept of "impossible" is more realistic and most....

      • (Score: 1) by Sulla on Friday November 02 2018, @04:58PM

        by Sulla (5173) on Friday November 02 2018, @04:58PM (#756924) Journal

        I wasn't complaining. One of the articles I was reading on the subject was from a guy who told Musk something was impossible within the deadline, so Musk fired the guy and then did it himself ahead of schedule and under budget. If Civ IV was being made a decade from now I think they might have a hard time deciding what kind of great person to make musk.

        Ceterum censeo Sinae esse delendam
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by turgid on Thursday November 01 2018, @11:26PM

    by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 01 2018, @11:26PM (#756663) Journal

    Mental health issues are important.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01 2018, @11:44PM (11 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01 2018, @11:44PM (#756670)


    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday November 02 2018, @12:14AM (10 children)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Friday November 02 2018, @12:14AM (#756675) Journal

      Details? Or is that just your "feels"?

      They could begin operating their ISP service with a fraction of the planned number of satellites, and just ramp it up over the next 5 years.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 2) by Arik on Friday November 02 2018, @05:03AM (9 children)

        by Arik (4543) on Friday November 02 2018, @05:03AM (#756757) Journal
        To quote Scotty; You cannae change the laws of physics.

        Were they really playing Counterstrike through this system? Sure, I can believe that, but it sucked. And it's always going to suck, until we find a way to beat the universal speed limit of 186k miles/second. LEO satellites like this will be roughly 1000 miles away from the endpoints, minimum. That makes for a mile round trip considerably longer than 2k miles, if we assume the endpoints aren't next to each other and directly under a satellite, but let's just make it simple and call it 2k. At the global speed limit that takes a little over half a second to traverse - and that's an awful lot of milliseconds. AND it's also on top of any processing time added by the satellite itself, or by the additional trip remaining at one end of the journey unless both endpoints are served directly by satellite. You aren't going to enjoy playing that sort of game with that kind of lag and you know it.

        So that part, at least, is clearly 'fluffery.' To put it politely.

        The key clever idea with this project is to compete *on price.* Because it will certainly never compete on performance - BUT he's absolutely right that there's a lot of data being carried that doesn't need high performance. The watching videos example is better, because that IS something you could realistically do over satellite. Latency is much less important, you start it buffering and accept a small delay to get it started and no big deal. And that's a LOT of data.

        But here's the thing - many many people would never be happy with this as their primary link. Because of latency - satellite traditionally hasn't offered the kind of bandwidth that would make his scheme work but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he'll get that part working. I just don't see him beating the speed of light. So this could work great for most of your traffic, but you'll still need a better connection to handle counterstrike, or video conferencing (as opposed to one-way video downloads) or for VOIP or any other application that's sensitive to latency.

        And traditionally, partial solutions like this have a VERY hard time getting established. So it makes sense he's putting a lot of stress on early to market.
        If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
        • (Score: 5, Informative) by takyon on Friday November 02 2018, @05:37AM (2 children)

          by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Friday November 02 2018, @05:37AM (#756760) Journal

          They plan on flying the satellites in two groups: one at 340 km (210 miles) altitude, and another at 1,200 km (750 miles).


          Internet traffic via a geostationary satellite has a minimum theoretical round-trip latency of at least 477 ms (between user and ground gateway), but in practice, current satellites offer latencies of 600 ms or more. Starlink satellites would orbit at 1/30 to 1/105 of geostationary orbits, and thus offer more practical latencies of around 7 to 30 ms, comparable to or exceeding existing cable or fiber networks.

          The system will use a peer-to-peer protocol claimed to be "simpler than IPv6", though no details have been as yet released.

          [...] In addition to the OneWeb constellation, announced nearly concurrently with the SpaceX constellation, a 2015 proposal from Samsung has outlined a 4600-satellite constellation orbiting at 1,400 kilometers (900 mi) that could provide a zettabyte per month capacity worldwide, an equivalent of 200 gigabytes per month, or 77 kilobytes per second, for 5 billion users of Internet data. Telesat announced a smaller 117 satellite constellation and plans to deliver initial service in 2021.

          By October 2017, the expectation for large increases in satellite network capacity from emerging lower-altitude broadband constellations caused market players to cancel investments in new geosynchronous orbit broadband commsats.

          I am willing to give it a shot, especially since I don't do much gaming at all. If total latency ends up being substantially worse than cable/fiber, I'm sure we'll hear many people complain about it.

          A bigger issue for them might be keeping the satellites in orbit. At 210 miles, those sats will probably not be long-lived. In the long-term, maybe they will try to use the air-breathing electric thruster trick [].

          This service would also be one of the few ways for most people to give money to SpaceX, seeing as the company does not plan to go public until it is regularly transporting people to Mars. Otherwise, I can only think of the merch on their shop [].

          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
          • (Score: 2) by Arik on Friday November 02 2018, @04:36PM (1 child)

            by Arik (4543) on Friday November 02 2018, @04:36PM (#756906) Journal
            Getting them to stick around at 210 miles is likely to be very tricky. And even if that works, it wouldn't be great for latency, just not quite as bad. The figures quoted seem quite optimistic.
            If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02 2018, @07:54PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02 2018, @07:54PM (#757038)

              I imagine they won't plan for these satellites to last more than 5 years. SpaceX can put them up relatively cheaply anyway, so replacing every so often shouldn't be a big deal.

              And the ISS orbits at between 200-240 miles. I'm sure a company that can land rockets on a barge at sea can work out how to keep their satellites in a similar orbit.

        • (Score: 2) by rondon on Friday November 02 2018, @03:06PM (5 children)

          by rondon (5167) on Friday November 02 2018, @03:06PM (#756872)

          I must be misunderstanding your math. Light can traverse 2000 miles in 11 thousandths of a second, not 500 thousandths of a second. Can you help me understand what I'm missing?

          • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Arik on Friday November 02 2018, @04:54PM (4 children)

            by Arik (4543) on Friday November 02 2018, @04:54PM (#756918) Journal
            Well let's see. Light goes 186k miles per second, roughly speaking. So to travel 1k miles would take 1/186th of a second, and to travel 2k miles should take 1/93rd of a second; roughly 11 milliseconds. So you appear to be correct, I appear to have mistakenly figured light speed at 186k miles per minute, or 1/60th of the actual value, resulting my figure being 60* the correct one.

            However, in my defense, I did (somewhat hastily) check that my estimate was in the same ballpark as others before pushing post, and somehow that didn't save me.

            From for instance;

            "Internet traffic via a geostationary satellite has a minimum theoretical round-trip latency of at least 477 ms (between user and ground gateway), but in practice, current satellites offer latencies of 600 ms or more."

            That's actually twice what I figured, but it's 30 times the refigured minimum you and I came to, so someone is still missing something here.

            And an added 11ms each way won't make counterstrike completely unplayable but it would still be noticeable.
            If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday November 02 2018, @05:44PM (3 children)

              by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Friday November 02 2018, @05:44PM (#756955) Journal

              Obviously, you read my post above, so you know that most of the satellites are only at an altitude of 210 miles. Resulting in a 420 mile round trip (omg blaze it) rather than 2,000 miles. While you may be skeptical of this orbit, this is the plan they have filed with the FCC and they will have to stick to it for now. SpaceX's space debris mitigation plan says that the satellites have a 5-7 year useful lifetime and will be forced to deorbit by around one year after that.

              They claim latency may be between 7 and 30 ms. A 22 ms ping would be just fine for gaming. 20-40 ms should work fine, above 50 ms would be more noticeable, and 100-150 ms or above would be bad. 11 ms would be just fantastic.

              In conclusion, this is not a traditional geostationary satellite constellation. It's a new beast, and using it for good Internet service and even multiplayer gaming is plausible. SpaceX is well-placed to launch small satellites for its constellation. Call it a very literal example of "vertical integration"

              [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
              • (Score: 1) by Arik on Friday November 02 2018, @07:53PM

                by Arik (4543) on Friday November 02 2018, @07:53PM (#757036) Journal
                "11 ms would be just fantastic."

                Sure but you know as well as I do you won't get that. It's not 11ms total, it's an unavoidable 11ms on top of everything else. The only way you'd get close to that would be if both endpoints are connecting directly to the same satellite, and bringing them down so low makes the odds of that pretty low. Particularly since it means the satellites themselves will be moving in and out of range of endpoints quite swiftly.

                I do think it's going to be very interesting to see how it turns out. If the price comes down enough this could be very attractive for some applications.
                If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
              • (Score: 2) by Tara Li on Friday November 09 2018, @01:47AM (1 child)

                by Tara Li (6248) on Friday November 09 2018, @01:47AM (#759645)

                A satellite in a 210 mile orbit is only 210 miles from the transmitter/receiver when it is directly over-head, something that is a fairly rare instantaneous event. Figure in the cross-connection while in orbit, and yeah, a thousand mile trip from ground station to ground station (ignoring the ground station to server segment of the interaction - will Starlink provide ground station to any major data center, or will they try to convince the data centers to buy those connections?)

                • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday November 09 2018, @02:15AM

                  by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Friday November 09 2018, @02:15AM (#759658) Journal


                  They plan to have 7,518 satellites in the lower orbit. So while it will be rare for one to be directly overhead, they could be "nearby" often.


                  With all 4425 satellites in place, the benefits approach or even surpass theoretical best-case statistics for literal straight-line fiber optic cables. Of course, SpaceX’s true proposal includes yet another 7520 very low Earth orbit (VLEO) Starlink satellites (~350 km) that would more than double the bandwidth available while potentially cutting another huge chunk out of the already unsurpassable latency performance of LEO Starlink (~1100-1300 km).

                  Apparently the optimists believe that Starlink at the HIGHER orbit will beat existing networks.

                  I can't answer your other questions yet. I'm just saying that when the service becomes available, I will look at the reviews. If real users indicate that the hype is to be believed, I will ditch whatever ISPs I'm currently using and throw money at Starlink. I think I would pay $70-100 a month for it.

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