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posted by martyb on Monday January 06 2020, @09:17PM   Printer-friendly

[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.

Previously:


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

 
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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Monday January 06 2020, @09:36PM (8 children)

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday January 06 2020, @09:36PM (#940373) Journal

    SpaceX is launching these so fast that astronomers can barely gather to talk about it.

    There's a session at AAS 235 [aas.org] devoted to the topic of Starlink big satellite constellations. I think the topic is being presented on the last day (8th):

    https://aas.org/sites/default/files/2020-01/AAS235-Meeting-Abstracts.pdf [aas.org]

    410 - Special Session - Challenges to Astronomy from Satellites
    410.02 - The Emergence of Low-Earth Orbiting Satellite Constellations and Their Impact on Astronomy
    410.03 - Mega-Constellations of Satellites and Optical Astronomy
    410.05 - Radio Astronomy in a New Era of Radiocommunication

    For their part, SpaceX is in communication with a working group at AAS [aas.org].

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    • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Monday January 06 2020, @10:01PM (7 children)

      by ikanreed (3164) on Monday January 06 2020, @10:01PM (#940384) Journal

      Move fast, break everythings.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 06 2020, @10:07PM (6 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 06 2020, @10:07PM (#940388)

        shit on everything that doesn't make me money

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Monday January 06 2020, @10:12PM (1 child)

          by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday January 06 2020, @10:12PM (#940392) Journal

          Fuck you, got mine.

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          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07 2020, @11:35AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07 2020, @11:35AM (#940591)

            my telescope is a whole moon crater ...

        • (Score: 2) by ElizabethGreene on Tuesday January 07 2020, @05:36PM (3 children)

          by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Tuesday January 07 2020, @05:36PM (#940681) Journal

          shit on everything that doesn't make me money

          I'm waiting for SpaceX to announce they've designed cheap bulk space telescopes that they are going to offer as an off-the-shelf buyable item or as a cloud service. That feels like a Musk solution.

          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday January 09 2020, @03:47AM (2 children)

            by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday January 09 2020, @03:47AM (#941312) Journal

            Enabling the cheap+fast launch of cheap and/or giant space telescopes is the way that Starship both causes and fixes the problem of too much stuff in orbit "ruining" astronomy.

            The advantages that ground based telescopes have are going to wane in the coming years. You can deploy telescopes in space that have structures that would not be sound on Earth in the presence of weight and wind. It's possible that optical interferometry will be easier in space.

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            • (Score: 2) by ElizabethGreene on Thursday January 09 2020, @05:27AM (1 child)

              by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Thursday January 09 2020, @05:27AM (#941337) Journal

              It also solves the light pollution issue and doesn't involve building on any protected heritage sites. +1 +1

              I don't think Starlink is going to be the thing that kills terrestrial astronomy. My guess is it's orbital solar power that does it in. I hope one day my kids will be able to look up in the night sky and see massive reflectors. That would be pretty cool.

              • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday January 09 2020, @05:57AM

                by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday January 09 2020, @05:57AM (#941343) Journal

                That would be wild, and China is expressing interest [cnbc.com].

                But I would expect that Starlink will only dominate the total number of satellites for a while. Starlink will reach 40-50k satellites, and other competitors (Amazon/Blue Origin, Telesat, China...) will eventually raise the total to 200k+. 1 million satellites and other objects in Earth orbit sounds realistic within the coming decades. If there is a linear relationship between the number of satellites and ground-based data quality, then R.I.P.

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  • (Score: 2) by legont on Monday January 06 2020, @10:21PM (3 children)

    by legont (4179) on Monday January 06 2020, @10:21PM (#940395)

    After 60 plus years of progress, private enterprise, even heavily sponsored, still can't beat governments.

    --
    "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Monday January 06 2020, @10:25PM (2 children)

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday January 06 2020, @10:25PM (#940398) Journal

      And why would we use that headline? If you are referencing Commercial Crew, this launch has nothing to do with Commercial Crew.

      Humans shouldn't really be going to space at all unless we have cheap to launch fully reusable rockets, something that no government can beat.

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      • (Score: 2) by legont on Tuesday January 07 2020, @04:29AM (1 child)

        by legont (4179) on Tuesday January 07 2020, @04:29AM (#940525)

        Let me put it straight. The headline says that SpaceX is the "largest satellite operator" which is outright lie designed for idiots who do not read the body of the message. Pure and simple brain washing.

        --
        "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 06 2020, @10:35PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 06 2020, @10:35PM (#940400)

    The original business plan called for the birds to be interconnected with laser links.

    Some back of the envelope to see if this is possible:

    Assume the system is partitioned to use commercial fiber transceivers coupled to telescope/steering systems.
    (I'm assuming one would build a 'home' for the transceiver which makes it think it is on the ground.)

    For a 100Gig link, 40dB is a possible link loss.
    At 1000 miles between birds and 1500nm, the telescopes need to be 1/2 meter diameter to provide a 40dB loss.
    Halving the wavelength gives you 12dB.
    Halving the diameter costs you 12dB.
    Cutting the bitrate by 10x gives you 10dB, but kind of makes the link marginally interesting.

    Hopefully, my envelope is wrong, but if not it seems unlikely that there is a useful set of choices to build a system you can launch 4 of on each sat?

    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday January 07 2020, @05:40AM (2 children)

      by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday January 07 2020, @05:40AM (#940539)

      Are you using link-loss for fiber, or perfectly straight line-of-sight through vacuum? I would think they would be quite different.

      Is there some reason to assume the receivers telescopes aren't half a meter across? That's really a pretty small mirror when you get down to it. Especially since you're only trying to amplify a 1D signal, so the mirror doesn't need the precision of a telescope intended for imaging, just a nice shiny piece of stamped and polished stainless steel (at a guess...) close-to-parabolic light collector rather akin to a tiny solar oven.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07 2020, @01:33PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07 2020, @01:33PM (#940615)

        Assuming a free space vacuum path between the telescopes.
        The path loss is due to the beam width from the telescopes due to their difraction limit.

        Not sure about the precision of the telescopes. Seems like all the photons need to stay in phase to add together?

        To me, four 1/2 meter mirrors and pointing systems seems pretty big compared to each of the 60 sats they are launching.

        • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday January 07 2020, @02:53PM

          by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday January 07 2020, @02:53PM (#940640)

          >The path loss is due to the beam width from the telescopes due to their diffraction limit.
          How wide a beam are you assuming? A full half-meter at transmission? I know the wider the beam, the slower it diverges.

          I'm not sure just how big an individual satellite is, all I've found reference to is mass (100-500kg), but I'm assuming those round things are transcievers, and they could easily be a half-meter across: https://www.reddit.com/r/SpaceXLounge/comments/7zfdwn/starlink_demonstration_satellite_image/ [reddit.com]

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07 2020, @11:40AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07 2020, @11:40AM (#940594)

    hihihi:"where are you hidding your router?"
    "in orbit, nyaa!"

    muticast should be interesting ... and torrenting too.

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