Knowing OneWeb LEO satellites are zipping around overhead I often wonder where they are. I found a free app for my iPhone and iPad that lets me track specific satellites in real time. The app is called SatSat, and it runs on both my smartphone and an old iPad. SatSat is satellite tracking software for use by radio amateurs, scientists or hobbyists. It displays current and next passes for any satellites listed in the index. It also provides amateur radio satellite beacons frequencies for radio detection. SatSat automatically fetches updated satellites data. No public beacon frequencies for OneWeb, just Amateur Satellites.
I have been using SatSat to track OneWeb birds and the SpaceX’s test satellites Tintin A and Tintin B, with the ISS creeping into the target display.
This afternoon I opened up SatSat on my iPhone and discovered that the WebOne string of satellites would become directly over my location, OneWeb 0011 already above the detection horizon.
I popped open the iPad for a larger view and hoped to do a screen capture. I got the larger picture, but could not get the iPad to do a screen capture. Using Plan B, I used the iPhone camera to capture the iPad screen. My apology for the fuzzy photos, but they are good enough to see the location of the satellites come over the horizon. When in the line of site it is possible to acquire a signal (AOS), and when they are out of range over the horizon (LOS) the signal is lost. As OneWeb 0011, 0006, 0007, and 0008 transition overhead the AOS periods were from 14 to 17 minutes. OneWeb 0012 was a laggard, somewhere over the Southern Indian Ocean when the string was approaching my location in the Central Valley of California headed North.
Although I did not calculate it precisely, with the string to OneWeb birds overhead, I would have had more than 30 minutes of coverage, and perhaps a little more as OneWeb 0012 final showed up much farther to the West but could have provided some AOS time.
The OneWeb satellite has been described to be about the size of a beer refrigerator. That may be hard for some to visualize in the above graphic, so here is a beer refrigerator sold on Amazon.
The SpaceX Starlink satellite is reported to be 1.1 meters (39in) long and 0.7 meters (28in) wide and 0.7 meters (28in) tall. The beer refrigerator above is 37.5 x 26.4 x 21.2 inches a bit smaller than a Starlink bird, but it gives you a sense of the size.
So, we can say these LEO Sats are about the size of a large beer cooler.
OneWeb has already encountered significant political problems in Russia. Russia launched OneWeb’s first test satellites and has a billion dollar contract for 20 additional launches, but Russian security officials are lobbying against OneWeb’s offering service on the grounds that it might facilitate spying. When Anatoly Zak, an expert on the Soviet space program, investigated that claim, he concluded that “With the launch of the OneWeb constellation, the Russian rocket industry stands to earn millions, but the Kremlin is terrified at the prospect of unhindered access to the Internet by its citizens.”
As far as I know, OneWeb is still planning to offer service in Russia, but they have had to make financial and technical concessions. They agreed to become a minority partner in the company that will market their service in Russia and, significantly, they agreed to drop the inter-satellite laser links (ISLLs) from their constellation and pass all Russian traffic through ground stations in Russia.
I can see why Russian and all the other nations controlling their populations would be nervous about an open internet available 24/7 to all citizens who could afford a low-cost terminal. Think of the havoc an open internet could cause in Russia, China, and North Korea from swarms of broadband satellites overhead 24/7. This is going to be a fun time to be an observer of global change.
If Project Kuiper comes to fruition, would Amazon, SpaceX, OneWeb, Telesat and other broadband players be chasing after the same customers in remote or underdeveloped regions of the world? Or would there be market segmentation?
You could argue that the biggest users of Amazon’s satellites will be … Amazon and its customers.
For example, Prime Video could offer streaming services worldwide via satellite (which could provide an edge over Netflix). The ability to provide cloud computing services to virtually anywhere in the world would be an attractive differentiator for Amazon Web Services (which already has a cloud-based platform for satellite management known as AWS Ground Station). And a global data network would make it a lot easier for Amazon to manage drones, robotic ground vehicles and all the other next-generation delivery channels it’s developing.
When you add the potential for taking orders and serving ads via a ubiquitous internet service, Project Kuiper looks less like a far-out fantasy and more like the final frontier for commerce. Amazon isn’t posting any job openings for satellite service marketers yet, but it’s probably only a matter of time.
Full Article is HERE. This is another opportunity for Amazon to change the business model once again. Another delivery systems totally under their control. This is more than just a broadband delivery system. Another Amazon Game Changer! Stay Tuned!
Discussing the potential of LEO satellites to with my Amateur Radio Group, one of the questions was “how will they manage so many satellites.”Doing some research I found the linked document on the Internet.