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posted by martyb on Thursday October 17 2019, @07:17AM   Printer-friendly
from the orbital-mechanics-is-circular-reasoning dept.

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.


More coverage:

Original Submission

Related Stories

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

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."

FCC Approves SpaceX Lowering Orbit of Internet Satellites 24 comments

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

SpaceX to Launch 60 Starlink Satellites at Once, and More 13 comments

takyon, realDonaldTrump and James Orme bring us news of all things SpaceX:

SpaceX to Launch 60 Starlink Satellites at Once, and More

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk reveals radical Starlink redesign for 60-satellite launch

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has published the first official photo of the company's near-final Starlink design and confirmed that Falcon 9 will launch a staggering 60 satellites on May 15th.

Known internally as Starlink v0.9, this mission will not be the first launch of operational satellites, but it will be the first internal SpaceX mission with a dedicated Falcon 9 launch. Additionally, the payload will be the heaviest yet launched by SpaceX, signifying an extraordinarily ambitious first step towards realizing the company's ~12,000-satellite Starlink megaconstellation.

Put simply, SpaceX's Starlink v0.9 launch is extremely unique for several reasons. Aside from the unprecedented step of launching 60 spacecraft weighing ~13,000 kg (~30,000 lb) on a developmental mission, both the form factor of each satellite and the style of dispenser/payload adapter has never been seen before. SpaceX appears to have settled on a square dispenser with four separate quadrants for satellites. The satellites themselves look truly bizarre – it's actually difficult to discern where one spacecraft stops and the next begins. Nevertheless, it appears that each Starlink satellite is a relatively thin rectangle, possibly with a squared top and bottom. It's also possible that they are all around rectangular and that the dispenser instead has two main sections.

SpaceX Satellites Pose New Headache for Astronomers 24 comments

SpaceX satellites pose new headache for astronomers

It looked like a scene from a sci-fi blockbuster: an astronomer in the Netherlands captured footage of a train of brightly-lit SpaceX satellites ascending through the night sky this weekend, stunning space enthusiasts across the globe.

But the sight has also provoked an outcry among astronomers who say the constellation, which so far consists of 60 broadband-beaming satellites but could one day grow to as many as 12,000, may threaten our view of the cosmos and deal a blow to scientific discovery.

The launch was tracked around the world and it soon became clear that the satellites were visible to the naked eye: a new headache for researchers who already have to find workarounds to deal with objects cluttering their images of deep space.

"People were making extrapolations that if many of the satellites in these new mega-constellations had that kind of steady brightness, then in 20 years or less, for a good part the night anywhere in the world, the human eye would see more satellites than stars," Bill Keel, an astronomer at the University of Alabama, told AFP.

Noting that there are currently about 2,100 satellites aloft, the article continues:

If another 12,000 are added by SpaceX alone, "it will be hundreds above the horizon at any given time," Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told AFP, adding that the problem would be exacerbated at certain times of the year and certain points in the night.

"So, it'll certainly be dramatic in the night sky if you're far away from the city and you have a nice, dark area; and it'll definitely cause problems for some kinds of professional astronomical observation."

[...] If optical astronomers are concerned, then their radio astronomy colleagues, who rely on the electromagnetic waves emitted by celestial objects to examine phenomena such as the first image of the black hole discovered last month, are "in near despair," he added.

One of the most spectacular sights of my life was being out in the wilderness, far from local light pollution, and seeing the Milky Way shining so brightly that I could not make out any constellations for all the other stars that were now visible. I cannot imagine how concerned astronomers must be to face the prospect of taking long-duration "images' of faint astronomical bodies... and having a satellite fly past at a much brighter magnitude. What, if anything, can be done?

Original Submission

Most of SpaceX's Starlink Internet Satellites are Already on Track 11 comments

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow4463

Most of SpaceX's Starlink internet satellites are already on track

The first batch of 60 Starlink internet satellites has been orbiting Earth for about a week, and now SpaceX has released a status update on the mission. According to a spokesperson, "all 60 satellites have deployed their solar arrays successfully, generated positive power and communicated with our ground stations."

The statement didn't directly mention concerns by astronomers about their brightness and visibility, but Elon Musk already has, and they aren't expected to reach their full altitude for three to four weeks. According to SpaceX, "observability of the Starlink satellites is dramatically reduced as they raise orbit to greater distance and orient themselves with the phased array antennas toward Earth and their solar arrays behind the body of the satellite."

Parabolic Arc notes that during a speech at MIT this week, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell mentioned four of the units had unspecified problems, while today's update said "most" are using their Hall thrusters to reach operational altitude and have already made contact with their broadband antennas, but all of them have maneuvering capability to avoid each other and other objects.

Previously: SpaceX to Launch 60 Starlink Satellites

Original Submission

Three of SpaceX's Starlink Satellites have Failed 27 comments

SpaceX's Starlink program launched an initial sixty satellites on May 23. At least three of these "are no longer in service" and "will passively deorbit." according to a spokesperson for the company.

In other words, the three spacecraft failed and will fall back to Earth, likely within a year because of their relatively low orbit of 273 miles (440 kilometers) above the planet's surface.

SpaceX seems relatively unfazed by the failures, though, since the company never expected all of them to function perfectly given the mission's experimental nature.

SpaceX intentionally implemented the satellites with minor variations.

On a brighter note, 45 of the satellites, which are equipped with small ion engines for maneuvering, have already reached their intended orbits. Five are moving towards their orbits, and five are pending evaluation before maneuvering. Another "[t]wo satellites are being intentionally deorbited to simulate an end of life disposal."

[N]ow that the majority of the satellites have reached their operational altitude, SpaceX will begin using the constellation to start transmitting broadband signals, testing the latency and capacity by streaming videos and playing some high bandwidth video games using gateways throughout North America.

The Starlink program was stung by early comments that the program was negatively affecting astronomy and SpaceX

added that it "continues to monitor the visibility of the satellites as they approach their final orbit" and that they will be measured for their visibility from the ground once there. Those comments are likely meant to address concerns lodged by astronomers about the reflectivity of Starlink spacecraft

The satellites are designed to completely disintegrate upon entering Earth's atmosphere, and the failures may help drive future iterations.

Previous Coverage
Most of SpaceX's Starlink Internet Satellites are Already on Track
SpaceX Satellites Pose New Headache for Astronomers
Third Time's the Charm! SpaceX Launch Good; Starlink Satellite Deployment Coming Up [Updated]
SpaceX to Launch 60 Starlink Satellites: Postponed 1 Day Due to Upper Altitude Winds [UPDATE 2]
SpaceX to Launch 60 Starlink Satellites at Once, and More
SpaceX's First Dedicated Starlink Launch Set for May; Amazon Hired SpaceX Execs for Project Kuiper

Original Submission

Near Collision Between ESA and SpaceX Satellite 45 comments

About a week ago, the 18th Space Control Squadron, US Air Force, relayed warning data to the European Space Agency.

The data indicated that there was a non-negligible collision risk between ESA's Aeolus satellite and Starlink44, an active SpaceX satellite, at 11:02 UTC on Monday, 2 September.

As days passed, the probability of collision continued to increase, and by Wednesday, August 28, ESA's Ops team decided to reach out to Starlink to discuss their options. Within a day, the Starlink team informed ESA that they had no plan to take action at that point. By Thursday evening, ESA's probability threshold for conducting an avoidance manoeuvre had been reached, and preparations were made to lift Aeolus 350 meter in orbit. By Sunday evening, chances of a collision had risen to 1 in 1000, and commands were sent to the Aeolus satellite, which triggered a total of 3 thruster burns on Monday morning, half an orbit before the potential collision. About half an hour after the collision prediction time, Aeolus contacted base, and normal measurement operations could continue.

What the SpaceX satellite was doing in ESA's Aeolus orbit is not clear.

ESA has taken the opportunity to point out that, given SpaceX plans to put up 20,000 of those things, handling monitoring and avoidance semi-manually, and by mail, is no longer practical.

Original Submission

SpaceX's Starship Can Launch 400 Starlink Satellites at Once 21 comments

SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell has revealed that Starship can carry 400 Starlinks satellites into orbit, up from the 60 recently launched using a Falcon 9 rocket. The cost per launch may be negligible:

Beyond Shotwell's clear confidence that Starlink's satellite technology is far beyond OneWeb and years ahead of Amazon's Project Kuiper clone, she also touched on yet another strength: SpaceX's very own vertically-integrated launch systems. OneWeb plans to launch the vast majority of its Phase 1 constellation on Arianespace's commercial Soyuz rockets, with the launch contract alone expected to cost more than $1B for ~700 satellites.

SpaceX, on the other hand, owns, builds, and operates its own rocket factory and high-performance orbital launch vehicles and is the only company on Earth to have successfully fielded reusable rockets. In short, although Starlink's voracious need for launch capacity will undoubtedly require some major direct investments, a large portion of SpaceX's Starlink launch costs can be perceived as little more than the cost of propellant, work-hours, and recovery fleet operations. Boosters (and hopefully fairings) can be reused ad nauseum and so long as SpaceX sticks to its promise to put customer missions first, the practical opportunity cost of each Starlink launch should be close to zero.

[...] Shotwell revealed that a single Starship-Super Heavy launch should be able to place at least 400 Starlink satellites in orbit – a combined payload mass of ~120 metric tons (265,000 lb). Even if the cost of a Starship launch remained identical to Starlink v0.9's flight-proven Falcon 9, packing almost seven times as many Starlink satellites would singlehandedly cut the relative cost of launch per satellite by more than the 5X figure Musk noted.

In light of this new figure of 400 satellites per individual Starship launch, it's far easier to understand why SpaceX took the otherwise ludicrous step of reserving space for tens of thousands more Starlink satellites. Even if SpaceX arrives at a worst-case-scenario and is only able to launch Starship-Super Heavy once every 4-8 weeks for the first several years, that could translate to 2400-4800 Starlink satellites placed in orbit every year. Given that 120 tons to LEO is well within Starship's theoretical capabilities without orbital refueling, it's entirely possible that Starship could surpass Falcon 9's Starlink mass-to-orbit almost immediately after it completes its first orbital launch and recovery: a single Starship launch would be equivalent to almost 7 Falcon 9 missions.

The Starlink constellation can begin commercial operations with just 360-400 satellites, or 1,200 for global coverage. SpaceX has demonstrated a 610 Mbps connection to an in-flight U.S. military C-12 aircraft. SpaceX is planning to launch 60 additional Starlink satellites in November, marking the first reuse of a thrice-flown Falcon 9 booster.

Also at CNBC.

Previously: Third Time's the Charm! SpaceX Launch Good; Starlink Satellite Deployment Coming Up [Updated]
SpaceX Provides Update on Starship with Assembled Prototype as the Backdrop
SpaceX Requests Permission to Launch an Additional 30,000 Starlink Satellites, to a Total of 42,000+
Elon Musk Sends Tweet Via SpaceX's Starlink Satellite Broadband
SpaceX: Land Starship on Moon Before 2022, Then Do Cargo Runs for 2024 Human Landing

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.


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 17 2019, @12:35PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 17 2019, @12:35PM (#908256)

    "Hey boss, remember I thought we could build the network with 12k, well it looks more like 30k."

    Dilbert excepted, given the resources required to put up any, is it plausable that the estimate was that wrong?

    The game is early here, should any request show that there is still at least half of the available resource left.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Thursday October 17 2019, @01:05PM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday October 17 2019, @01:05PM (#908266) Journal

      12k + 30k.

      A SpaceX spokeperson declined to respond to Farrar’s comments, but sent SpaceNews a statement saying it “SpaceX is taking steps to responsibly scale Starlink’s total network capacity and data density to meet the growth in users’ anticipated needs.”

      There are all kinds of users:

      SpaceX sees U.S. Army as possible customer for Starlink and Starship []

      SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell appeared on a panel Wednesday alongside U.S. Army leaders who talked about their efforts to modernize the force and bring more innovation into military procurement.

      [...] Army officials speaking at the AUSA event Oct. 15 [] said they are considering tapping into commercial LEO megaconstellations to support the service’s demands for higher capacity and lower latency communications.

      The bottom line is that these satellites are relatively cheap, the launch capability will become super cheap (Starship), and they can begin operating with a small fraction of the total, scaling up over the years.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Immerman on Thursday October 17 2019, @01:49PM (1 child)

    by Immerman (3985) on Thursday October 17 2019, @01:49PM (#908287)

    They can't keep the relative handful of satellites they've already launched in their designated orbits (as evidenced by the EU having to move their satellite to dodge one of the starlinks a short while back), but hey, they promise that with 40,000 more they'll do better...

    This is sounding to me more and more like a low-orbit "land-grab" - if ~95% of all satellites in orbit belong to SpaceX (there's currently 2,271 total satellites in orbit), and they can't be bothered to keep them in their designated orbit... who else is going to be willing to risk putting their satellites in low orbit?

    Fortunately they're low enough that any Kessler Syndrome would be short-lived, but it's still not a comforting scenario.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Thursday October 17 2019, @02:42PM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday October 17 2019, @02:42PM (#908322) Journal

      They can't keep the relative handful of satellites they've already launched in their designated orbits (as evidenced by the EU having to move their satellite to dodge one of the starlinks a short while back)

      Fake news. One prototype satellite had a small chance of hitting another satellite, and it was hyped up by the ESA. The communication issue can be attributed to it being their first batch. So yes, they will do better with the next 40,000.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
  • (Score: 1) by oumuamua on Thursday October 17 2019, @02:18PM (3 children)

    by oumuamua (8401) on Thursday October 17 2019, @02:18PM (#908302)

    SpaceX is not the only player in the game.
    Amazon and OneWeb will also likely 'need' additional satellites.
    That is then well over 100,000 satellites that will need to be tracked and monitored... unless ... can they all share a satellite constellation?
    Very similar to the problem of utility poles and cable wires and that did not work out well.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday October 17 2019, @02:36PM (2 children)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday October 17 2019, @02:36PM (#908318) Journal

      The volume of space surrounding Earth is large enough to accommodate millions or billions of satellites.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 17 2019, @02:47PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 17 2019, @02:47PM (#908325)

        "The volume of space surrounding Earth is large enough to accommodate millions or billions of satellites."

        Yes, most of the time.

        But the tracking and control infrastructure doesn't yet know how to coordinate to make it essentially all the time.
        So, you get orbital bands. Are those in unlimited supply?

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Thursday October 17 2019, @03:06PM

          by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday October 17 2019, @03:06PM (#908336) Journal

          They are going through the proper channels to gain permission to launch these. If it can't be done, they'll be informed of that fact. Maybe they will be asked to invest in expanding the tracking and control infrastructure as a compromise, since they'll be the world's largest user for a while.

          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
  • (Score: 2) by istartedi on Thursday October 17 2019, @05:22PM (3 children)

    by istartedi (123) on Thursday October 17 2019, @05:22PM (#908392) Journal

    Whatever service is going to be offered by this, I'd like to boycot it before it even gets off the ground. Come on, Elon. You've got some cool ideas. This is not one of them.

    Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday October 17 2019, @05:53PM (2 children)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday October 17 2019, @05:53PM (#908404) Journal

      Many millions of people living outside of cities would disagree with you.

      The satellites are designed to deorbit. Impacts on astronomy are manageable. Compare 42,000 within multiple orbits to the number of cars on Earth. They won't be hitting each other very often.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 2) by edIII on Thursday October 17 2019, @08:48PM (1 child)

        by edIII (791) on Thursday October 17 2019, @08:48PM (#908481)

        Impacts on astronomy are manageable

        Just like a walk up Mt. Everest is "manageable". It apparently takes quite a bit of sophistication and effort to remove the effects of satellites and our activity from space from the data. Here's [] an example with a good explanation. You can click the photo to see before and after processing. Notice the before picture. That's now, what the heck would it look like with 40,000 more satellites in LEO?

        You're understating the amount of effort required, and missing that it's not actually possible to get a clean picture of space anymore. Space now requires photoshop to look good :)

        Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday October 17 2019, @10:54PM

          by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday October 17 2019, @10:54PM (#908555) Journal

          It all comes down to exposures and exposure times, the field of view of the telescope, etc. Almost all useful astronomy involves data processing already. The image you linked represents over 18.5 hours of data. No wonder there are trails in it.

          The issue is unavoidable as Earth becomes space-faring (for real). Might as well get used to it soon.

          SpaceX offers both the "problem" and solution with one rocket. Starship will make it very cheap to launch hundreds of Starlink satellites at a time, and it will also make it cheap to launch lots of tiny and gigantic space telescopes. Space telescopes will become much larger and more capable than ground-based telescopes, since they don't have to deal with the same mechanical stresses. Maybe you can get to 100-meter aperture on Earth (e.g. OWL [] or Colossus []). In space we could see 1000-meter or larger modular telescopes, swarms of telescopes [], easier optical inteferometry [], etc. These can be placed above all of the broadband constellation satellites or further out at L2. Construction of new large ground-based telescopes will slow down, although we may see some being built on the Moon. The existing ones will still get plenty of use as long as there is budget for it, even with all of the satellites zipping around.

          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []