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posted by martyb on Monday April 29 2019, @03:03AM   Printer-friendly
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.

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  • (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.


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  • (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 []

    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.

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