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posted by martyb on Monday April 29 2019, @03:03AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Kessler-was-an-optimist dept.

The FCC has approved a modification to SpaceX's plan to loft 1,500 low orbit satellites to provide internet service to all parts of the globe.

In November, SpaceX sent a request to the FCC to partially revise plans for the company’s satellite internet constellation, known as Starlink. Under SpaceX’s original agreement with the commission, the company had permission to launch 4,425 Starlink satellites into orbits that ranged between 1,110 to 1,325 kilometers up. But then SpaceX decided it wanted to fly 1,584 of those satellites in different orbits, thanks to what it had learned from its first two test satellites, TinTin A and B. Instead of flying them at 1,150 kilometers, the company now wants to fly them much lower at 550 kilometers.

And now the FCC is on board. “This approval underscores the FCC’s confidence in SpaceX’s plans to deploy its next-generation satellite constellation and connect people around the world with reliable and affordable broadband service,” SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement.

"“This approval underscores the FCC’s confidence in SpaceX’s plans.”"

SpaceX argues that by operating satellites at this orbit, the Starlink constellation will have much lower latency in signal, cutting down transmission time to just 15 milliseconds.

The first batch of satellites is already at the launch site and is expected to liftoff sometime in May. SpaceX plans to launch a total of nearly 12,000 satellites to build its Starlink satellite constellation, although most of these will be in higher orbits.

Not everyone was happy about SpaceX’s updated plans, though. OneWeb, another company developing a large satellite internet network, and satellite operator Kepler Communications both filed petitions to deny SpaceX’s request for a change to the FCC. They both argue that since SpaceX uses similar frequencies, the Starlink satellites could interfere with their satellites if moved to a lower orbit. But ultimately, the FCC did not think interference would be an issue.

There are other companies undertaking similar projects. Previously-mentioned OneWeb has already launched the initial six satellites of an eventual buildout of 650 satellites. Amazon has announced its own internet initiative called Project Kuiper which will put another 3,236 satellites in orbit.


Original Submission

Related Stories

SpaceX Requests Permission to Launch an Additional 30,000 Starlink Satellites, to a Total of 42,000+ 12 comments

SpaceX submits paperwork for 30,000 more Starlink satellites

SpaceX has asked the International Telecommunication Union to arrange spectrum for 30,000 additional Starlink satellites. SpaceX, which is already planning the world's largest low-Earth-orbit broadband constellation by far, filed paperwork in recent weeks for up to 30,000 additional Starlink satellites on top of the 12,000 already approved by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC, on SpaceX's behalf, submitted 20 filings to the ITU for 1,500 satellites apiece in various low Earth orbits, an ITU official confirmed Oct. 15 to SpaceNews.

[...] In its filings, SpaceX said the additional 30,000 satellites would operate in low Earth orbit at altitudes ranging from 328 kilometers to 580 kilometers.

[...] It is not guaranteed that, by submitting numerous filings, SpaceX will build and launch 30,000 more satellites. Tim Farrar, a telecom analyst critical of SpaceX, tweeted that he was doubtful the ITU will be able to review such big filings in a timely manner. He sees the 20 separate filings as a SpaceX effort to "drown the ITU in studies" while proceeding with its constellation.

Nothing a Starship can't launch.

Starlink.

More coverage:


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Monday April 29 2019, @03:14AM (1 child)

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday April 29 2019, @03:14AM (#836144) Journal

    SpaceX and OneWeb Clash Over Proposed Satellite Constellation Orbits [soylentnews.org]

    If OneWeb can get regulators to throw a wrench in the Starlink plans, they could breathe a sigh of relief. They recognize that SpaceX can outcompete everybody by launching their own stuff, starting with partially reusable Falcon 9 and ending with fully reusable Starship and its gigantic fairing. SpaceX probably won't get slapped for anti-competitive practices if they don't block others from using their launchers. Starlink would be competing with a number of ground-based ISPs and mobile networks anyway.

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    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by redneckmother on Monday April 29 2019, @03:36AM (13 children)

    by redneckmother (3597) on Monday April 29 2019, @03:36AM (#836148)

    One of my prime complaints about "HughesNOT" is latency.

    I'm stuck with those b*stards for internet, because of my own damn insistence on being in the boonies.

    I'm hoping that someone, somehow, will do SOMETHING to offer me a low(er) cost, low(er) latency, non-data capped connection.

    --
    Mas cerveza por favor.
    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday April 29 2019, @03:44AM (10 children)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 29 2019, @03:44AM (#836151) Homepage Journal

      Thinking of yourself!

      Just thought I'd throw that in there. :^) But, I'm guilty too, LOL! I'm wondering the same thing. What will the latency be? Will I be able to ping someserver.net in less than a day? The only reason I've not switched over to satellite is the latency. DSL really sucks around here, but satellite sucks for all the reasons that satellites suck. Lower orbits will have to improve on that, right?

      But, back to selfishness: Isn't the whole purpose of launching all these satellites to provide internet where people have worse choices than I have? Parts of Africa, parts of South America, the various islands, and the neglected suburbs near the big cities?

      --
      The only reason for not believing in it (Marxism) is that it doesn't work. - Thomas Sowell
      • (Score: 4, Informative) by c0lo on Monday April 29 2019, @03:51AM

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 29 2019, @03:51AM (#836155) Journal

        But, back to selfishness: Isn't the whole purpose of launching all these satellites to provide internet where people have worse choices than I have?

        You'll be surprised, but no. Bottom line, the purpose of all these satellites is profit.

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Monday April 29 2019, @04:03AM (6 children)

        by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday April 29 2019, @04:03AM (#836159) Journal

        https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/285692-spacex-seeks-fcc-approval-for-1-million-earth-based-satellite-uplinks [extremetech.com]

        On the ground side, SpaceX now says it wants a blanket license to deploy the one-million stations on Earth that will end users in the US to its satellite network. Each terminal would make use of advanced beamforming and steerable antenna technology. The SpaceX constellation is set to operate in the Ku-band spectrum, thus the FCC’s involvement. The Earth stations will transmit at 14.0-14.5GHz and receive signals at 10.7-12.7GHz. For comparison, current LTE networks operate at 600MHz to 2.5GHz. SpaceX has said that Starlink could provide gigabit speeds with latency as low as 25ms, putting it on par with terrestrial broadband.

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        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Monday April 29 2019, @04:49AM (5 children)

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 29 2019, @04:49AM (#836172) Homepage Journal

          Nice link, which prompted me to go looking. Found a page with some explanations, and a video. Phase1: Expected latency from New York to London, about 50 ms, but latency is expected to be variable. Meaning, a stream of packets might take 50 ms, then as the routing changes, it might go up to 75, and then decrease to 50 again. San Francisco to London, about 80 ms, "which is better than the best fiber optic" according to the video. "London to Singapore takes about 80 ms" and "generally, the further you go, the greater the gains over using fiber optical" London to Johannesberg, not so good, because they aren't (initially, at least) concentrating on north to south routing.

          Phase2 plugs the "holes" in the north-south routing, bringing latency down, and making it far less variable. At the same time, Phase2 lowers latency somewhat on more east-west routing.

          The video promises that from anywhere, to anywhere, there will be about 20 different routes, all of which offer better latency than the best existing internet.

          https://www.universetoday.com/140539/spacex-gives-more-details-on-how-their-starlink-internet-service-will-work-less-satellites-lower-orbit-shorter-transmission-times-shorter-lifespans/ [universetoday.com]

          A number of search results offer hints at what end-user hardware will look like. Those "earth stations" are the end users. This is probably the best link of the several that mention end-user antenna: https://www.circleid.com/posts/20190320_spacexs_starlink_internet_service_will_target_end_users_on_day_one/ [circleid.com]

          No mention of cost, anywhere I've looked.

           

          --
          The only reason for not believing in it (Marxism) is that it doesn't work. - Thomas Sowell
          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday April 29 2019, @05:37AM (1 child)

            by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday April 29 2019, @05:37AM (#836188) Journal
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29 2019, @11:50PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29 2019, @11:50PM (#836446)

              End users will be targeted unless they learn to duck.

          • (Score: 2) by pkrasimirov on Monday April 29 2019, @11:44AM

            by pkrasimirov (3358) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 29 2019, @11:44AM (#836229)

            > there will be about 20 different routes
            Duude... now we will get to know what does it mean UDP out-of-order packet delivery, duplications etc.

          • (Score: 2) by captain normal on Monday April 29 2019, @07:16PM (1 child)

            by captain normal (2205) on Monday April 29 2019, @07:16PM (#836367)

            "Cost..." How much have you got?

            • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday April 29 2019, @07:27PM

              by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 29 2019, @07:27PM (#836370) Homepage Journal

              Not sure that's the right question. It's more like, "How much can we wring out of 50 to 75 million Americans?" I suspect that I won't be able to afford it. They're certainly going to charge a good deal more than any of the existing sat services, right? More than cable. More than DSL. Of course, when I browse around looking at fiber prices in the larger cities, that's under $100. If SpaceX can do that, then I can afford it.

              --
              The only reason for not believing in it (Marxism) is that it doesn't work. - Thomas Sowell
      • (Score: 1) by RandomFactor on Monday April 29 2019, @01:49PM

        by RandomFactor (3682) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 29 2019, @01:49PM (#836250) Journal

        What will the latency be? Will I be able to ping someserver.net in less than a day? The only reason I've not switched over to satellite is the latency. DSL really sucks around here, but satellite sucks for all the reasons that satellites suck. Lower orbits will have to improve on that, right?

        Somewhere in TFA or filing it SpaceX indicated they could get latency down to 15ms from the lower orbit. That's as good as connected and perfectly fine for interactive gaming if accurate and a far cry from what I've heard about satellites (good throughput, terrible latancy).
         
        My understanding of satellite internet in the past (never done it) is that you basically dialed out on a modem to send but receive was via the satellite. Be interesting to see if this is going to be the same model.

        --
        В «Правде» нет известий, в «Известиях» нет правды
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29 2019, @05:31PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29 2019, @05:31PM (#836313)

        But, back to selfishness: Isn't the whole purpose of launching all these satellites to provide internet where people have worse choices than I have?

        Yeah, and Facebook says they want to connect Africa to better people's lives.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by takyon on Monday April 29 2019, @04:01AM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday April 29 2019, @04:01AM (#836158) Journal

      If we believe the hype, low-Earth orbit satellite broadband could turn out to have lower latency than traditional cable/fiber networks, at least in some scenarios.

      The lowest latency capabilities could be reserved for findoms quants and the military:

      https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2018/12/spacex-starlink-will-not-be-for-high-frequency-trading.html [nextbigfuture.com]
      https://soylentnews.org/article.pl?sid=18/12/22/1516251 [soylentnews.org]

      Of course, you would just be glad to get access to a great internet service that could even be superior in rural areas (you have more control over where you can put your antenna than an apartment building in a city, and you could slap a station on an RV or something). And latency will be a fraction of HughesNet (what are you getting, 600ms?).

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 1) by redneckmother on Monday April 29 2019, @04:23AM

        by redneckmother (3597) on Monday April 29 2019, @04:23AM (#836167)

        "(what are you getting, 600ms?)"

        Wow, if only... DNS lookups time out for me, ALL THE TIME. It's so irritating to repeatedly reload browser pages when some site or another times out.

        Kinda makes the BP go up. Hafta drink a lot of alcohol to put up with it.

        I'd be a lot happier with a meg or so down, and low latency. These "UP TO" claims are, well, BS.

        -- please see sig --

        --
        Mas cerveza por favor.
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29 2019, @12:17PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29 2019, @12:17PM (#836235)

    The reusable booster stuff is a quantum leap in a lot of areas.

    Looks like the Internet over Sats will be too. New areas include:

    1) A latency war with leapfrogging to lower orbits, and X both fighting and providing launches for their opponents.
    2) Much faster, but predictable packet route changing will lead to proactive routing.
    3) Tracking and dealing with a much increased level of junk in some orbits due to a few less than perfect birds.
    4) Quants figuring out how to use the predictable latency variations to make new trading schemes.
    5) A disruption in the sat construction business model just like happened in the boosters.
    6) Likewise low cost RF earth stations and free space optical.
    7) Lord knows what else?

    Grab your popcorn, should be a great show!

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday April 29 2019, @05:47PM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday April 29 2019, @05:47PM (#836315) Journal

      The idea of big and cheap payloads lifted by BFR is important. If you can lift 10x the mass and 100x the volume at 1/5th the price, suddenly you don't have to worry about making your sat compact or out of lightweight materials (which could be expensive or weaker). You can also add more attached solar panels. For space telescopes in particular, you can get very large apertures before even thinking about folding mechanisms or modularity. If BFR launch cost eventually drops down to around $10 million, it becomes competitive with smallsat launchers. Share the fairing with other payloads, and you have very cheap access to space.

      I'm not a fan of launching ultra-low-orbit sats that are just going to burn up in 1 year. However, we have a possible way to prolong orbital life while lowering the orbit further:

      Air-Breathing Electric Thruster Tested; Could Enable Long-Lived Satellites in Low Orbits [soylentnews.org]

      If someone makes a mistake and the payload becomes space junk or goes in the wrong orbit, a second rocket to retrieve the payload may be worthwhile.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29 2019, @02:09PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29 2019, @02:09PM (#836253)

    Too bad we don't have undersea cables with fiber with a center hole with a space like dielectric constant...

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29 2019, @05:58PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29 2019, @05:58PM (#836324)

    IN the FCC filing:

    "SpaceX provided a casualty risk assessment which states the risk of human casualty from re-entry from any one of it's satellites meets or exceeds the NASA standard of 1 in 10,000."

    So, if you put up 4k sats, does that mean the odds of killing one person by the time they all reenter is 40%?

    If so, should the odds should be scaled with the number of sats so the overall odds for the whole program are near 1 in 10K.

    • (Score: 2) by Osamabobama on Monday April 29 2019, @06:45PM

      by Osamabobama (5842) on Monday April 29 2019, @06:45PM (#836347)

      So, if you put up 4k sats, does that mean the odds of killing one person by the time they all reenter is 40%?

      I calculated a 33% chance of killing at least one person, if each satellite only meets the NASA standard. Of course it would be less if they exceed it.

      Pconstellation=(1-Psat)n

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      Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday May 01 2019, @12:58AM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday May 01 2019, @12:58AM (#836996) Journal

      https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-starlink-satellites-florida-launch-1/ [teslarati.com]

      According to SpaceX, the first 75 operational Starlink satellites will be significantly less refined than those that will follow. Most notably, they will eschew dual-band (Ku and Ka) phased array antennas, instead relying solely on Ka-band communications. The second main difference between relates to “demisability”, referring to characteristics exhibited during reentry. The first 75 spacecraft will be less refined and thus feature a handful of components that are expected to survive the rigors of reentering Earth’s atmosphere, creating a truly miniscule risk of property damage and/or human injuries. Subsequent Starlink vehicles will incorporate design changes to ensure that 100% of each satellite is incinerated during reentry, thus posing a ~0% risk on the ground.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29 2019, @06:03PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 29 2019, @06:03PM (#836328)

    The main reason for the lower altitude is to keep the disposal lifetime below 25 years using natural forces. The regulators think the usual "90% reliability of removal from orbit within 25 years of end of mission" is not sufficient for these huge numbers of satellites, especially when hundreds or thousands of them will use the exact same design. SpaceX is working with the regulators on its plan to test the system and demonstrate high disposal reliability at the lower altitude, while raising hardware reliability toward 99% for disposal from the higher (>650 km) altitudes, which require active post-mission disposal.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday April 29 2019, @08:10PM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday April 29 2019, @08:10PM (#836382) Journal

      True and here's some sauce: https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-starlink-lawyers-oneweb-critique/ [teslarati.com]

      Aside from further reducing the latency of communications, SpaceX also argues that “the principal reason” behind lowering the operational altitude of the first ~37% of Starlink satellites was “to [further] enhance the already considerable space safety attributes of [the] constellation.”

      The safety benefits of a significantly lower orbit come into play when the potential dangers of space debris come into play. Put simply, satellites in lower orbits – particularly orbits below ~1000 km – end up experiencing far more drag from the upper vestiges of the Earth’s atmosphere, drag that acts like an automatic switch in the event that a given LEO satellite loses control. At 500 km and below, even small spacecraft with enough surface area will automatically reenter Earth’s atmosphere within just a few years (~5), while orbits around 1000-1500 km can stretch the time to reentry by a factor of 5-10, often taking decades. In other words, SpaceX’s desire to lower the initial operating orbit of ~1600 Starlink satellites would end up dramatically reducing the consequences the failure of one or several satellites would have on other spacecraft operating in the same orbital regions.

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