SpaceX's satellite plan proposes that Starlink spacecraft would be placed in two different sets of lanes, starting with lower orbit…
SpaceX’s satellite plan proposes that Starlink spacecraft would be placed in two different sets of lanes, starting with lower orbit satellites at a height of 550 kilometers. (PatentYogi via YouTube)
SpaceX wants to lower the bar for its first series of Starlink broadband satellites, with the aim to begin implementing by the end of 201
The revised plan is issued to regulators of the Federal Communications Commission in archiving seeking a lower circulation of 1,584 of the more than 4,400 satellites that it predicts to start. The new envelope would be 550 kilometers high, as opposed to the 1,150-kilometer orbit described in SpaceX’s first round of applications.
The FCC subscribed to SpaceX’s original plan in March, and would have to approve the revisions.
In its filing, SpaceX said it was changing the plan based on its experience of Tintin A and B, the two prototype satellites that put it in circulation in February.
The spacecraft built on SpaceX’s satellite development facility in Redmond, Wash., Has been tested for several months. Some observers wondered why the Tintin satellites were not sent to a higher orbit as planned – and the revised constellation plan could explain.
“This move will help simplify spacecraft construction and improve space security features for SpaceX constellation by ensuring that any orbital debris will undergo rapid atmospheric re-entry and descent, even though spacecraft is unlikely to fail in the orbit,” SpaceX said. In the documents filed today.
said the plan for a lower orbit means that 16 fewer satellites will be required – and will also reduce the potential for a traffic jam at the higher orbit near the height of competing broadband constellations handled by OneWeb, Boeing and Telesat.
Starlink requires thousands of satellites because each satellite spends a few minutes in contact with a given ground station when it passes. But when enough satellites are in circulation, constellation should be global coverage, theoretically make low cost broadband access available to billions of people who do not have it today.
Low-ground satellite as opposed to a much higher geostationary path reduces storage time or latency for data transfers. In May, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk stated the response time for the Tintin satellites “pretty good” with latency of up to 25 milliseconds. “Good enough to play video games with fast response,” tweeted him.
When low-end constellation is fully deployed, latency can be reduced to as little as 15 milliseconds, “at what time it would be practically unimaginable to almost all users,” said SpaceX in today’s archiving.
SpaceX acknowledged that it goes lower will present some challenges. At least, first, the satellites must broaden their transmission angles so that the ground stations can communicate when the satellites are only 25 degrees above the horizon, as opposed to 40 degrees below the original plan.
SpaceX has also convinced the FCC that the revised plan would create no disturbance for terrestrial networks and geosynchronous satellite networks than the original plan would have. The company presented pages of charts showing that it would be the case.
SpaceX wants the FCC to speed up the approval of the audits: When the Agency gave its initial approval, it said that the thumb was dependent on favorable conclusions from the International Telecommunications Union, the global authority on satellite communications in telecom. But in today’s archiving, SpaceX said it was not optimistic to get ITU’s forward-looking view on time. It offered orbit data based on ITU simulations as a replacement, hoping to revoke FCC’s original requirements.
FCC is due to consider SpaceX’s Starlink plan next week during a time frame set by the FCC chairman Ajit Pai as “space month”.
SpaceX said it planned to beat the deadlines set by the FCC in its initial approval. “SpaceX intends to launch its first batch of satellites to begin filling a new orbital scale before the end of 2019,” said it. At least half of the 4,400 plus satellites are required to be used by March 29, 2024.
Today’s archiving gave Spacex a call to its Redmond operation, which recently underwent a reorganization to accelerate satellite speed development. “SpaceX could move from opening its satellite technology development office in Redmond, Washington, to build, launch and run its own spacecraft in circulation in an unprecedented three and a half years,” said the company.
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