SpaceX Starlink: How Will the Internet Satellites Work?

Inverse has the details:

Satellite internet promises broader access to a wider range of people than traditional cable-based networks, but latency has been a major issue. A 2013 analysis found satellite systems could reach latency of 638 milliseconds, around 20 times slower than wired. That means that while data could download at a comparable speed to regular connections, the slow response times would make gaming and other reaction-sensitive activities sluggish.

Musk claims Starlink will be lower latency enough to power video games. Access will be delivered to users through a ground terminal the size of a pizza box, differentiating it from other services that beam directly to the device. SpaceX filed with the FCC for permission in February for 1 million fixed-Earth stations that will communicate with the satellite array. These systems use steered antenna beams to communicate with the satellite it can see in the sky. SpaceX tested this setup in February 2018 by launching two test satellites communicating with six ground stations.

The new proposals make some key adjustments to these plans that could improve the long-term viability of the project. Mark Handley, a professor of networked systems at University College London, told Inverse in November 2018 that a lower orbit means the satellites will stay up for around five years once defunct before falling to Earth unlike the original design that could have led to satellites floating around for decades creating space junk. There’s also more space between each satellite, of 90 kilometers instead of 40, reducing the chances of collisions.

Overall, Handley explains, the system could halve communication times between London and Singapore, in part because light in a vacuum is 50 percent faster than light through glass, such as fiber optic, and also because fiber optic sometimes takes a less direct path. Starlink will use lasers to communicate with others in the array, forming a fast-moving global network.

Link to video HERE.

Operational launches start in May from Florida on a Falcon 9, but the majority of the Starlinks birds will be launched with the Falcon Heavy from Texas.  There are more details on the Starlink program and its goals at this LINK.

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