SpaceX is Rapidly Deploying the StarLink Broadband Internet Satellites
In the latter part of 2020, SpaceX Starlink satellite broadband internet service began offering invitations to residents in the northern parts of the U.S. and some southern parts of Canada to be beta testers. As of April 2021, Starlink was providing beta-service to more than 12,000 people here in the U.S. and globally.
This is just the beginning, but the advantages of the SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation are many. In the beginning, the SpaceX Starlink satellite beta testing area was limited to areas between 45 and 53 degrees latitude. The Starlink beta is currently being expanded to a larger area.
In January 2020, SpaceX had around 100 Starlink satellites in orbit. During the rest of 2020 and through April of 2021, they launched 24 missions sending the number of satellites in orbit to more than 1500 that are operational. The advantages and challenges of SpaceX Starlink Satellite service will become more apparent as the program progresses. SpaceX Starlink Satellite launches can be viewed live a the official SpaceX launch coverage site.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given Elon Musk and SpaceX the approval to launch as many as 11,943 broadband satellites. The SpaceX satellite Internet service will challenge the government-owned microwave cell towers and fiber-based geographically grounded limited Internet monopolies.
This is a big advantage of the SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation. It will even the playing field between civilian and government space communications. The project offers much promise but has many challenges to overcome. But, most agree the advantages of the SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation are many and outweigh the disadvantages.
Scroll down here for latest Starlink news and developments
What is SpaceX StarLink Broadband Internet Service?
Developed by SpaceX, Starlink is a company in the process of creating a broadband satellite internet service. The service is referred to as “StarLink”. The concept of this service will allow people in rural and undeveloped parts of the world to have access to reliable broadband internet service.
By the year 2022, the Starlink satellite broadband service should be available to most of the world. The Starlink service will offer faster connection speeds with lower latency than existing established satellite services. Starlink satellites use a low-earth orbit.
What is a low-earth orbit (LEO)?
From 110 to 1200 (roughly) miles from Earth is a region that is considered the closest orbit to the Earth. This the region that most space missions are executed in. Missions like the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station utilize these orbits.
Starlink’s satellites are in this orbit as opposed to most communication satellites that are in a higher orbit, about 23,000 miles above Earth’s surface. Here are four different orbits used:
- Moon’s Orbit – Lunar Orbit — Located 236,606 miles above sea level
- High-Earth Orbit — 23,000 miles above sea level
- Mid-Earth Orbit — Between 1200 and 22,000 miles above sea level
- Low-Earth Orbit — Between 180 and 1240 miles above sea level
One of the advantages of SpaceX Starlink Satellite service is that it uses Earth’s low-orbit. Since the Starlink satellites are closer to Earth the communication signals take less time to get to and back from the satellite. This results in lower latency, overcoming the biggest problem with typical satellite communications.
Starlink is Elon Musk’s next big thing
Elon Musk has experienced great success when predicting trends and making investments. He was part of PayPal in 1999. PayPal currently has 286 million users. PayPal was acquired from Elon and his partners for $1.5 million.
He then started a company called Tesla. By the end of 2020 Tesla was bigger than Gm, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler combined. The success of Tesla has increased his net worth by adding about $57 billion.
And, on May 30th of 2020 another company created by Elon, SpaceX, became the first private company on the globe to launch American astronauts into space. He has been awarded huge contracts from the U.S. Government for future launches.
Now, Elon is going “all-in” again. The SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation is definitely his next big thing. How does he predict and create these profitable markets? He uses a proven 3-step process. It’s called “Creative Destruction”.
Elon Musk demonstrates “Creative Destruction” again
The term “Creative Destruction” may be familiar to some people. It a 3-step process. It’s a process that continues to build Elon’s fortune.
- First — Elon finds a humongous size industry that has been around a long time.
- Second — He puts radical innovations to work and develops new technologies, methods, and implementation techniques that will make the old industry obsolete.
- Third — He puts his technologies to use. He flips the switch on the new tech, usually proving some major players wrong. In a short time, there are masses of people lining up to buy the product or service.
The advantages of the SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation will prove to be the driving factor in this disruptive technology.
High-Speed Internet Access Across the Globe
Starlink is rapidly expanding their constellation of Starlink broadband satellites. They hope to provide near global coverage by 2020. Currently they are providing their broadband Starlink satellite internet service in parts of North America and Canada.
There are expectations that the Starlink service will surpass the speeds of existing satellite communications services, and provide much lower latency. Latency has been the main disadvantage of existing providers.
The FCC tells SpaceX it can deploy up to 11,943 broadband satellites
In November 2018, the FCC authorized SpaceX to deploy 11,943 broadband satellites into Earth orbit. Approximately 7,500 of these satellites will be at a very-low Earth orbit (about 200 miles above sea-level). The lower orbit will lower latency and increase the capacity of the constellation. That’s one of the big advantages of the SpaceX Starlink satellite deployments. Those satellites will operate in the 40GHz range for download, and at the 50GHz range for upload transmissions.
SpaceX StarLink has the go-ahead for 1 million U.S. ground installations
The advantages of the SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation will be realized at first by residents of North America. The FCC has granted SpaceX Starlink permission to deploy up to one million U.S. ground satellite systems. The entire network is easily scalable and a global presence will be felt by 2022.
The Main Advantages of the SpaceX StarLink Satellite Constellation
One of the main advantages is global broadband availability. Broadband Internet will be available in areas that are remote and scattered. SpaceX Starlink will offer highspeed broadband along with exceptionally low latency, a characteristic that is very important in applications like financial management.
Satellite constellations are important to humanity. Starlink will offer additional safety globally by being used for weather predictions and other useful practices. It will enable a more connected world while providing better earth observation, communication, and navigation capabilities.
Although the pricing per ground station (initial setup and monthly fee) will not be low enough to call it cheap, it will be the best option, by far for many businesses and private residents. Thousand acre far4ms in remote areas will benefit from the service.
Video: Real-Engineering – Why SpaceX is Making StarLink
The Challenges – Disadvantages of the SpaceX StarLink Satellites
As with any ambitious project as complex and massive as Starlink there will be challenges that must be overcome. The technology is now proven and it’s realized by top professionals that the concept will work. There are however two main concerns that must be addressed. Some experts are concerned about these disadvantages of the SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation
Could SpaceX Starlink Satellites Cause excessive space junk?
Space junk is already a huge problem. The problem is getting bigger. Space junk mostly consists of man-made stuff. there are hundreds of thousands of objects in low Earth orbit. This is not a new problem. In 2009 a U.S. communication satellite collided with an inactive Russian satellite. The two collide at more than 22,000 miles per hour, resulting in thousands of pieces of debris, more space junk.
Currently, there are more than 23,000 man-made fragments larger than 4 inches across that are being tracked in orbit. Those are the pieces of debris that are large enough to track. It’s estimated that as many as 500,000 pieces between one half and 4 inches in size are in orbit. This debris is a problem. This debris is a threat to the International Space Station, satellites, space telescopes, and other useful objects in orbit.
The first group of Starlink satellites launched by SpaceX had a fail rate of 5%. That means that 1 in 20 satellites failed to properly operate after being launched. At low orbits the dead satellites will naturally deorbit and burn up when re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. At a slighter higher orbit of 240 miles above sea level it could take 5 or more years for the satellites to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.
SpaceX is working on this issue and have some safety measures in place. It will be a matter of time before we know the full detrimental effects of these dead satellites. and, to be noted, operational satellites will be able to use collision avoidance technologies.
Even without the space junk created by the SpaceX Starlink Satellite Constellation project, the problem will get worse if something is not done. Here’s an interesting video about space junk on the Space.com Website. As for a solution to tackle the space junk problem, there are some companies working on some ideas. Astroscale just launched the first commercial space junk cleanup mission designed to locate and retrieve used satellites and other debris orbiting Earth.
Will Light reflecting off SpaceX StarLink satellites hamper astronomers
Here’s the second issue that must be overcome. Since the first launches of Starlink satellites astronomers have raised multiple concerns about the light reflecting off the satellites. At this time there were only 120 satellites in orbit. Eventually, the network may consist of over 40,000 satellites.
The concerns are addressing the astronomers’ ability to mitigate the reflections of the satellites. Just as we need almost total darkness to get a good view of the stars with our naked eyes, astronomers required even more darkness.
SpaceX and the Starlink project are experimenting with different techniques to minimize the problem that is affecting the astronomers’ ability to view the universe.
Did Starlink satellites interfere with the observation of the NEOWISE Comet?
While using The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope Nasa discovered a new comet. The discovery was made in the early part of 2020. Already by then there were hundreds of Starlink satellites in low-earth orbit.
During one photographer’s effort to take a time-lapse photo of the comet known as NEOWISE, there was a problem. The reflection from the hundreds of Starlink satellites made taking the photo nearly impossible. The satellites were as prominent in the photo as the comet.
The following is a tweet posted July 22, 2020 by Julien
While this issue is being addressed by SpaceX and the Starlink team, astronomers are sure the solution will be sufficient to gain their night skies back. Currently there are numerous observatories being hampered by the light being reflected by the satellites. Time will tell if any remedy will work well enough to appease the astronomy community.
More Facts About SpaceX StarLink Satellite Constellation
- Starlink Satellites are Compact — They have less mass, each satellite only weighing roughly 575 pounds. They have a flat-panel design that allows efficient storage during SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches. The satellite is about the size of an average refrigerator.
- Phased Array Antennas — The Starlink satellites have four powerful phased array antennas. They are very efficient and help to meet high capacity requirements.
- Simplified Solar Array — The solar cells in the single array are standardized. They are easily manufactured and their simple design allows for easy integration.
- Ion Thrusters — We’re talking Krypton here. The super-efficient ion thrusters on the Starlink satellites are powered by Krypton. Starlink satellites are the first spacecraft to use Kryton propulsion. It works with collision avoidance and can adjust the altitude of the satellite’s orbit. The Ion thrusters also can initiate a deorbit routine.
- Custom Navigation Capabilities — Not only does this feature allow the satellite to optimize its altitude but helps to enable precision placement of broadband throughput. In the future, the “Star Tracker” guidance system may be used to offer extremely accurate GPS coordinates.
- Collision Avoidance — It’s autonomous, using inputs from the Department of Defense debris tracking system the Starlink satellites can initiate evasive maneuvers. The system also can prevent collisions with other Starlink satellites during deployment and future maneuvers.
SpaceX chief Elon Musk aims to connect large trucks, ships, and aircraft with Starlink Internet Service
SpaceX Starlink Satellite Constellation News Beyond 2020
The Starlink Project by SpaceX achieved great success in 2020. It was a record year for launches. The Starlink project began beta-testing while launching more than 800 satellites.
The year 2021 is seeing the expansion of the SpaceX Starlink constellation. The constellation is bringing satellite Internet service to the British Isles, Europe, and even the North Pole. Reaching out to remote parts of the glode is one of the advantages of the SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation
The 24th SpaceX Starlink Satellite constellation mission took place on Wednesday, April 7. SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Falcon 9 first stage rocket booster supporting this mission previously supported the launches of NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station, ANASIS-II, CRS-21, Transporter-1, and two Starlink missions.
Following stage separation, SpaceX successfully landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship, which was located in the Atlantic Ocean. This was the 74th successful recovery of a Falcon 9 first stage. One half of Falcon 9’s fairing previously supported the launches of AMOS-17 and two Starlink missions, and the other previously supported a Starlink mission.
On Wednesday, March 24 at 4:28 a.m. EDT, SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. This was the sixth launch and landing of this Falcon 9 first stage booster, which previously supported launch of GPS-III Space Vehicle 03, Turksat 5A, and three Starlink missions. One half of Falcon 9’s fairing supported the Sentinel-6A mission and the other supported a previous Starlink mission.
Side note: There is still concerns within the industry that the disadvantages of the Spacex Starlink satellite constellation may out weigh the advantages of the SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation. The main concerns are space debris and light pollution. As SpaceX continues to increase the number of satellites within the constellation more data will be available as to the advantages and disadvantages of the SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation.
On Sunday, March 14 at 6:01 a.m. EDT, SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This was the ninth launch and landing of this Falcon 9 first stage booster, which previously supported the launch of Crew Dragon Demo-1, RADARSAT Constellation, SXM-7, and five Starlink missions.
That means the SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation now offers additional coverage to more remote locations. That’s one the advantages of the SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation, offering broadband Internet service to remote areas.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lit up the predawn sky early this morning (March 11) as it carried a new batch of 60 Starlink internet satellites into orbit, before nailing its landing on a floating platform at sea. The two-stage Falcon 9 booster lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at 3:13 a.m. EST (0813 GMT).
About 8.5 minutes later, the rocket’s reusable first stage returned to Earth for its sixth landing, touching down on one of SpaceX’s drone ships. The floating platform, called “Just Read the Instructions,” was stationed out in the Atlantic Ocean, about 400 miles (630 kilometers) downrange.
We look forward to the next launch of SpaceX Starlink satellites as the size of the SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation grows. The advantages of the Starlink satellite constellation are already being realized by tens of thousands beta subscribers in multiple regions.
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches and lands for 8th time, delivering 60 Starlink satellites to orbit. The advantages of the SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation are becoming more apparent. This Launch and landing was the 75th successful recovery of a Falcon9 stage 2 rocket and the eighth recovery of this particular booster.
The successful liftoff came just a few hours after SpaceX’s Starship prototype, SN10, successfully completed a high-altitude test flight at the company’s facilities in Texas at 6:15 p.m. EST (2315 GMT). The stainless-steel launcher soared 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) in the sky, before touching back down. The flight went as planned, but the massive vehicle exploded shortly thereafter.
This latest mission marked the company’s 20th Starlink mission and it’s sixth mission overall for 2021 for SpaceX. SpaceX is being very efficient in its delivery of Starlink Satellites as it continues to provide Internet access to remote parts of the world. The advantages of the SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation are being appreciated by more and more people with every successful launch.
SpaceX’s Starlink service is already serving more than 10,000 people with broadband beamed down from space. Most customers are getting Internet speeds of more than 100 megabits per second. Later this year that speed will increase to about 300 Mbps.
The SpaceX boss also believes that by the end of this year his rocket company will have deployed enough Starlink satellites to provide “most of Earth” with some degree of internet service, with the entire planet covered at some point in 2022. “Then it’s about densifying coverage,” Musk said.
On Monday, February 15th SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Falcon 9 first stage rocket booster that supported this mission previously flew on five missions. Unfortunately, the Falcon 9 did not successfully land on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship, which was located in the Atlantic Ocean.
Starlink is now delivering initial beta service both domestically and internationally and will continue expansion to near global coverage of the populated world in 2021. If you’re interested in service, Starlink recently started taking orders on a first-come, first-served basis. To reserve your spot ($99 refundable deposit) in line, head over to starlink.com for more information.
On Thursday, February 4 at 1:19 a.m. EST, SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage successfully returned to Earth and landed on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean, completing this booster’s fifth launch and landing.
The mission carried 133 government and commercial spacecraft. There were orbital transfer vehicles, microsats, and Cubesats. In addition, there were 10 Starlink Satellites onboard. This SpaceX launch deployed the most spacecraft ever on a single mission. This is an example of one of the many advantages of the SpaceX Starlink program.
The Starlink satellites aboard this mission were the first in the constellation to deploy to a polar orbit. A Polar Orbit (PO) is an orbit in which a satellite passes above or nearly above Earth’s North and South poles on each revolution. It has an inclination of 90 degrees (or very close to 90) to the equator.
Falcon 9’s first stage landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship, stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
In December 2020, the Wise County Public School District in rural Virginia, where approximately 40% of teachers and students do not have internet access at home, announced it would provide some families in the area with Starlink to support remote learning. Starlink units were deployed in January and over 40 homes are now connected with high-speed internet.
Another batch of 60 Starlink satellites was launched from Kennedy Space Center’s LC-39A launch facility. The first stage ASDS landed successfully on ‘Just Read The Instructions”, the recovery barge.
The winds out at sea were higher than any winds on previous landings, testing the capabilities of the equipment. This was the 17th Starlink mission and the first of 2021.
The Falcon 9 first stage was designed with a lifecycle of 10 or more missions, with minimul maintainence between missions. The Falcon 9 first stage rocket booster supporting this mission previously flew on seven other missions:
- The SXM-7 mission in December 2020,
- Launch of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission in June 2019,
- launch of Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission in March 2019,
- and Four other Starlink missions.
One half of Falcon 9’s fairing previously supported a Starlink mission and the other previously supported two.
Starlink announces they have been awarded an operating license for the U.K. Hundreds of installation kits have been shipped to Beta-testers. The cost of the starter kits is running 20% higher than the cost for the U.S counterparts. Subscription services are also higher, an additional £84 ($120) for a monthly subscription.
Beta testers can expect download speeds of 50 to 150 Mbps. The speeds are not as fast as the what beta-testers in the U.S are experiencing, but a big improvement over other existing options.
A beta-tester in Denmark has reported download speeds of 85Mbps, compared to the 0.5Mbps his former service offered. That’s 1700% faster downloads.
That’s another one of the big advantages of the SpaceX Starlink satellite constellation.
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Featured image by BRGFX
Updated 04/08/2021 by Kirby Allen