SpaceX gets nod to put 12,000 satellites in orbit

November 16, 2018
A SpaceX Falcon 9 launches two satellites in October 2018

SpaceX got the green light this week from US authorities to put a constellation of nearly 12,000 satellites into orbit in order to boost cheap, wireless internet access by the 2020s.

The SpaceX network would vastly multiply the number of satellites around Earth.

Since the world's first artificial , Sputnik, was launched in 1957, humanity has sent just over 8,000 objects into space, according to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.

Between one quarter and one half of those are believed to still be operational.

On Thursday the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it had authorized SpaceX to launch 7,518 satellites, adding to 4,425 satellites it has already approved.

None of the satellites has launched yet.

Elon Musk's company has six years to put half in , and nine years to complete the satellite network, according to FCC rules.

SpaceX wants most of the satellites to fly in low Earth orbit, about 208 to 215 miles (335 to 346 kilometers) high.

That would put them below the International Space Station, which orbits about 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Earth.

SpaceX's interest in such a low orbit is to shorten the communication time between internet users on Earth and space-faring satellites, speeding up surfing speeds.

But this low altitude may be difficult to maintain and smaller satellites tend to have shorter lives than bigger ones.

The FCC has also authorized other companies to launch satellites, including Kepler (140 satellites), Telesat (117 satellites), and LeoSat (78 satellites).

Explore further: SpaceX launches 10 more Iridium Communications satellites

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SamB
5 / 5 (1) Nov 16, 2018
Out of curiosity, when another country (other than the USA) wants 'the nod', who do they approach? (If Canada gives the nod to one of our budding space enthusiast, how is the possible conflict of each countries multiple satellites handled?
Jeffhans1
5 / 5 (2) Nov 16, 2018
The day this network goes live, I plan on shorting the stock of the big telecoms.
JaxPavan
5 / 5 (2) Nov 17, 2018
Do they have a plan to clear them away at obsolescence?
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Nov 17, 2018
The day this network goes live, I plan on shorting the stock of the big telecoms.

What ?!? And give up those big dividends?
ShotmanMaslo
5 / 5 (2) Nov 17, 2018
Do they have a plan to clear them away at obsolescence?


They do, every satellite will have to deorbit itself. Even if that fails, the satellites are on such a low orbit that they will naturally fall to Earth after few years.
guptm
3 / 5 (2) Nov 17, 2018
Did US take permission from International Space Policy makers?
rrwillsj
not rated yet Nov 17, 2018
Sam, any non-American competitor will need to get permission from which ever country has some unscheduled launch capacity.

Jeff, if you are thinking about timing the market? Have I got a solid-gold asteroid to sell you! Just for my amusement, ask your broker how come he collects his fees at both the put and the call? And how much interest {cough. vigorish. cough.} he will bill you for loaning you some one else's shares? And will the actual owner get a cut of your transaction?

Oh WG, I would assume {turn my head and cough} the more versatile telephone conglomerates will embrace this myriad cloud as an opportunity to avoid spending their own money on infrastructure.

SM, Duck! Incoming!

guptm, as usual the United States dictated what is going to be permitted. Negotiation and compromise are so 2014!

That self-centered stupidity means the rest of the World can go get the job done. Leaving us "yanking" our egos in their dust.
JaxPavan
not rated yet Nov 17, 2018
Wait till equatorial nation's develop a bit more and start charging rent for geostationary orbits.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) Nov 17, 2018

Oh WG, I would assume {turn my head and cough} the more versatile telephone conglomerates will embrace this myriad cloud as an opportunity to avoid spending their own money on infrastructure.


Yea! Bigger dividends!

(Or that new house in the Hamptons for the CEO...)
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Nov 17, 2018
Out of curiosity, when another country (other than the USA) wants 'the nod', who do they approach?
They negotiate with the FCC International Bureau.

"The International Bureau administers international telecommunications and satellite programs and policies, including licensing and regulatory functions. The bureau also promotes pro-competitive policies abroad, coordinates global spectrum activities and advocates U.S. interests in international communications and competition."

-Ignore the bullshit artists in this thread who think their imaginations pass for reliable info.

Or do the research yourself.
SamB
not rated yet Nov 17, 2018
Out of curiosity, when another country (other than the USA) wants 'the nod', who do they approach?

They negotiate with the FCC International Bureau.


Wow, that must piss off China!
Eikka
5 / 5 (2) Nov 18, 2018
Do they have a plan to clear them away at obsolescence?


Anything below 800 km will slowly fall down, although it might take 100 years to do so.

A satellite with a drag surface of one square meter and a mass of 100 kg will de-orbit and fall to the earth from 300 km in 46 days. Smaller satellites will drop faster because their drag-to-mass ratio (ballistic coefficient) is greater, while larger heavier things like the ISS will tend to stay up for longer because they have more momentum to kill.

The constellation of small satellites in LEO will simply fall down in a matter of days or months unless they're constantly running ion engines or other means to keep their speed up.

Satellites in low earth orbit have short lifespans anyhow, because they experience 15 sunrises and sunset per day, which is very stressing to the batteries and even the structural components that go from boiling hot to -100 C every 90 minutes.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2018
The lowest altitude where you can still complete an orbit is 150 km, maybe a little lower if your satellite is really aerodynamic or incredibly heavy. Practically speaking, when you're at 200 km you're going down.

350 km for a communication satellite is reasonable, giving you about a millisecond in radio latency, but even 12,000 satellites in a constellation aren't going to give you very fast internet speeds because this is basically orbital Wifi - you're sharing the bandwidth with millions of users and they each get a transmission slot that may be seconds apart because there's just so many of them.
Reaching
1 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2018
So Eikka - since you are, or have been, in the trade, or very near it, and you don't feel there is much net gain to cell phone interactive communications, then what do you think is the real reason Space X, its' clients, and the government are launching the 12,000 new satellites?
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) Nov 18, 2018
So Eikka - since you are, or have been, in the trade
????

"Proponents say next-generation satellite Internet technology could help developing countries and rural areas connect to economic opportunities currently out of reach for them because they lack competitive Internet access."

"SpaceX expects its own latencies to be between 25 and 35ms, similar to the latencies measured for wired Internet services. Current satellite ISPs have latencies of 600ms or more, according to FCC measurements."

-This is the internet. Better to use it to educate yourself rather than to ask anonymous sources to do it for you.
granville583762
3 / 5 (4) Nov 18, 2018
Swiss Cheese

A holey conundrum
Why not
Just add the 12,000
To the all ready growing space junk
If we keep adding this meteoric material
Not only will all the existing satellites
Start filling up with holes
The junk will start multiplying
It will be like the plastic whale where the sea is filling up with plastic fish
We will not be able to put replacement satellites as they also will fill with holes
And not only that
If this keeps on going unabated
We won't be able to reliably leave our planet
Except as Swiss cheese
granville583762
3 / 5 (4) Nov 18, 2018
It looks like if these 12,000 satellites are doomed to quickly burn up in retry
Eikka> A satellite with a drag surface of one square meter and a mass of 100 kg will de-orbit and fall to the earth from 300 km in 46 days. Smaller satellites will drop faster because their drag-to-mass ratio (ballistic coefficient) is greater

If we do not care about the air we breathe
The smaller the satellite the quicker it de-orbits and burns up on retry
Then every month 12,000 can be launched
Then it becomes a viable business
High volume, disposable production of 12,000 units a month
Mass produced and launched in the developing countries which there aimed for
tigerstudios
1 / 5 (1) Nov 19, 2018
USA will likely use this global internet as a foreign policy tool. They will cut or limit services to countries they do not like, enforce rules on countries that do "business" with a country that USA does not like (Iran Nuke Treaty, punishing EU for trade with Iran)

LEO will provide fast internet access, but at a cost.. More ground stations will be needed to have continual access. It's cheaper to launch 12000 sates, but more expensive to track them, and connect with them

The cheapest, and perhaps best option would be Geosynchronous orbit. The internet speed will be slower, but this isn't about speed, it's about 100% coverage. Space X is a business, and is doing this for profit. There is no profit to launch 20 - 100 GSO Sates that last a long time. But 12K with short life span means continual launches of the years.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Nov 19, 2018
USA will likely use this global internet as a foreign policy tool
No they have Reuters, al Jazeera, RT, and Disney for that.
Eikka
not rated yet Nov 20, 2018
"SpaceX expects its own latencies to be between 25 and 35ms, similar to the latencies measured for wired Internet services. Current satellite ISPs have latencies of 600ms or more, according to FCC measurements."

That's quite plausible. In theory it takes about 2 milliseconds to bounce the radio signal off of a reflector - the slowest part is receiving the signal and computing the routing in the satellite before sending the data packets somewhere else - to another satellite or back down to the ground.

The thing is, if you spread 12,000 satellites evenly across the globe, so you'd always have one somewhere above you as close as possible, each will cover an area roughly 42,500 km² in a grid with about 350 km separation between adjacent satellite. Hence, a satellite may have to serve millions whereas one wired router will serve hundreds at worst.

They need some ballsy hardware up there to keep up, or throttle the speed and increase latency to cope.
Eikka
not rated yet Nov 20, 2018
Because, you have to remember these satellites are constantly moving. You can't choose to put them above New York for example since they're on LEO and whizzing around the world at breakneck speed. To have a constant "supply" of satellites above any one point, you need the whole constellation of satellites evenly spread and each going around in a near-polar orbit so they would swoop by at regular intervals.

what do you think is the real reason Space X, its' clients, and the government are launching the 12,000 new satellites?


If the government is involved in the planning; probably because the government is paying. Why is the government paying; pork barrels.
Eikka
not rated yet Nov 20, 2018
Who most would benefit from cheap and relatively fast satellite internet access is things like Point-of-sales systems which wouldn't need to sign contracts with local phone operators and pay their data fees.

Reading your smart electric meter is another: IoT applications with small infrequent data access needs are currently being served by cellphone networks using things like guard band frequencies between channels. These services can be expensive, especially with little existing competition in the field, and the coverage can be patchy with buildings and hills in the way.

They say this is for developing countries, but really, it's about first-world applications like making your VISA card phone home reliably in an airplane over the Atlantic, without using expensive and congested GEO satellite services.

In the developing countries then, this system is available and cheaper faster than they can build their own infrastructure, which kills local competition

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