SpaceX’s Elon Musk says ‘Goodness’ Will Come From Twice-Delayed Starlink Launch

GeekWire has a long article on Starlink HERE.

. . .This first launch is primarily aimed at demonstrating the technology for what could eventually amount to as many as 11,000 satellites in low Earth orbit.

Musk said only about 400 satellites would be required to build up a “useful” satellite constellation, which translates into about six launches after this mission’s scheduled deployment. Mark Juncosa, vice president of vehicle engineering at SpaceX, said another six launches would provide good coverage over the United States. An additional six to 12 launches would raise the satellite tally high enough to cover the world.

“Within a year and a half, maybe two years, SpaceX will probably have more satellites in orbit than all other satellites combined,” Musk said.

Continues reading HERE.

 

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Starlink Mission Statement

MISSION OVERVIEW

SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, May 15 for the launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. SpaceX’s Starlink is a next-generation satellite network capable of connecting the globe, especially reaching those who are not yet connected, with reliable and affordable broadband internet services.

The launch window opens at 10:30 p.m. EDT on May 15, or 2:30 UTC on May 16, and closes at 12:00 a.m. on May 16, or 4:00 UTC. A backup launch window opens on Thursday, May 16 at 10:30 p.m. EDT, or 2:30 UTC on May 17, and closes at 12:00 a.m. on May 17, or 4:00 UTC. Falcon 9’s first stage for this mission previously supported the Telstar 18 VANTAGE mission in September 2018 and the Iridium-8 mission in January 2019. Following stage separation, SpaceX will attempt to land Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. Approximately one hour and two minutes after liftoff, the Starlink satellites will begin deployment at an altitude of 440km. They will then use onboard propulsion to reach an operational altitude of 550km.

SpaceX designed Starlink to connect end users with low latency, high bandwidth broadband services by providing continual coverage around the world using a network of thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit. To manufacture and launch a constellation of such scale, SpaceX is using the same rapid iteration in design approach that led to the successes of Falcon 1, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon. As such, Starlink’s simplified design is significantly more scalable and capable than its first experimental iteration.

With a flat-panel design featuring multiple high-throughput antennas and a single solar array, each Starlink satellite weighs approximately 227kg, allowing SpaceX to maximize mass production and take full advantage of Falcon 9’s launch capabilities. To adjust position on orbit, maintain intended altitude, and deorbit, Starlink satellites feature Hall thrusters powered by krypton. Designed and built upon the heritage of Dragon, each spacecraft is equipped with a Startracker navigation system that allows SpaceX to point the satellites with precision. Importantly, Starlink satellites are capable of tracking on-orbit debris and autonomously avoiding collision. Additionally, 95 percent of all components of this design will quickly burn in Earth’s atmosphere at the end of each satellite’s lifecycle—exceeding all current safety standards—with future iterative designs moving to complete disintegration.

This mission will push the operational capabilities of the satellites to the limit. SpaceX expects to encounter issues along the way, but our learnings here are key to developing an affordable and reliable broadband service in the future.

Source: SpaceX.com

SpaceX Starlink Launch Scrubbed Again

Launch Scrubbed for Software Update, delayed one week or more. 

A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carrying the first 60 spacecraft in SpaceX’s “Starlink” megaconstellation is scheduled to launch tomorrow night at 10:30 p.m. EDT (0230 GMT on May 17) from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Watch it live here at Space.com courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the spaceflight company.

Source: Space.com HERE.

For us, on the west coast, it will be a 7:30 PM launch.  I am setting a reminder on Alexa so I do not forget to watch his historic launch.

 

New Space Race To Bring Satellite Internet To The World

Some views by industry leaders on the satellite internet race at CTVNews.

Anxiety has set in across the space industry ever since the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, revealed Project Kuiper: a plan to put 3,236 satellites in orbit to provide high-speed internet across the globe.

Offering broadband internet coverage to digital deserts is also the goal of the company OneWeb, which is set to start building two satellites a day this summer in Florida, for a constellation of over 600 expected to be operational by 2021

Billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX is equally active: it’s just received a clearance to put 12,000 satellites in orbit at various altitudes in the Starlink constellation.
Not to mention other projects in the pipeline that have less funding or are not yet as defined.

Is there even enough space for three, four, five or more space-based internet providers?

At the Satellite 2019 international conference in Washington this week, professionals from the sector said they feared an expensive bloodbath — especially if Bezos, the founder of Amazon, decides to crush the competition with ultra-low prices.

“Jeff Bezos is rich enough to put you out of business,” said Matt Desch, the CEO of Iridium Communications.

Iridium knows all about bankruptcy. The company launched a satellite phone in the 1990s — a brick-like set that cost $3,000 with call rates of $3 a minute. Barely anyone subscribed at the dawn of the mobile era.

The firm eventually relaunched itself and has just finished renewing its entire constellation: 66 satellites offering connectivity, but not broadband, with 100 percent global coverage to institutional clients including ships, planes, militaries and businesses.

“The problem with satellites, it’s billions of dollars of investments,” said Desch.
And if “you spend billions and you get it wrong, you end up creating sort of a nuclear winter for the whole industry for 10 years. We did that,” he added.

“These guys coming in, I wish them really well… I hope they don’t take 30 years to become successful like we did.”

Continue reading HERE.  These two paragraphs caught my attention:

“The challenge in monetizing is being able to get through those first few years, where you have to put in all your capital expenses, but not being able to get enough revenues to keep you afloat,” Shagun Sachdeva, a senior analyst at Northern Sky Research, told AFP.

Sachdeva expects most of the companies to die off, adding that the market will eventually have room for “maybe two” and that space-delivered internet services won’t be commonplace for at least five to 10 years.

That is longer than I want to wait.

What is the Price for Starlink Internet?

Inverse has a long write up on the SpaceX Starlink program HERE, including a demonstration of how capitalism and competition work in the broadband market.

Starlink could save consumers billions, even if they don’t choose to go with SpaceX for internet. A BroadbandNow report claims such constellations could save American households up to $30 billion per year. The logic is that increased competition will drive prices down: around 104 million Americans have one wired broadband provider in their area, and prices cost around $68 per month. Around 75 million have two choices, and they pay around $59 per month. The 14 million with five or more choices pay just $47, so adding Starlink into the mix could push people into the next lower bracket as the competition increases:

the-mean-lowest-price-over-time

Existing satellite offerings come to around $50 per month for service. If SpaceX wants to compete with other providers, a price around this area may not be unreasonable.

However, the startup cost could be between $300 and $500 for a terminal, which might put off some customers.  It will interesting to see how the package is bundled.

Elon Musk Stuffs 60 Starlink Satellites on a SpaceX’s Falcon Rocket

We now know how many of SpaceX’s Starlink broadband data satellites can be crammed into the nose cone of a Falcon rocket.  The answer is 60.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk showed how five dozen satellites fit, just barely, inside a Falcon fairing today in a tweet:

Screen Shot 2019-05-12 at 12.41.32 PM

More details at GeekWire:

The Starlink project is due to go through a milestone Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as early as next week. The demonstration mission will mark another step toward the deployment of thousands of satellites designed to provide low-cost global internet access.

These first satellites are equipped with antennas and networking equipment to communicate with ground stations in a variety of locations, including three in Washington state. But as SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell reported at this week’s Satellite 2019 conference, they won’t demonstrate the satellite-to-satellite links that knit the constellation together. That will have to wait for future deployments.

For what it’s worth, 60 satellites won’t set a record for a single rocket launch, or even a single Falcon 9 launch. Last December’s SmallSat Express launch, organized by Seattle-based Spaceflight, put 64 satellites on a Falcon 9.

[ . . .]

Twitter wags were quick to note that Musk’s minimum for “minor coverage” was 420 satellites, a number that figured in last year’s Tesla tussle and his marijuana misstep:

60 x 7 Launches = 420 Starlinks, the minimum for a starter network.

More Tweets posted HERE.

RCRC Commentary: Empower Local Communities to Close the Digital Divide

Greg Norton President and CEO of Rural County Representatives of California.

The deployment of broadband infrastructure supporting speed-of-commerce connectivity is among the most critical missing components needed to drive economic development in California’s rural communities. Broadband access is essential to connecting rural communities to the 21st century economy. Yet the barriers to deploying infrastructure continue to inhibit access in some of California’s most disadvantaged communities in both rural and urban areas.

The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) represents 36 of California’s 58 counties, covering approximately 56 percent of the state’s land mass. It is estimated that merely 47 percent of California’s rural households within this population area have access to high-speed broadband.

I recently had the opportunity to speak about this crisis on a panel before the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) titled “The Imperative of Digital Inclusion.” In their 2016-17 Annual Report, CETF identified internet access as a “21st Century Civil Right,” and the internet is now firmly established as an operational epicenter for business, government, education, information, and basic services.

Access to broadband provides multiple economic and social benefits to rural residents by allowing access to vital government services and resources. Broadband contributes to job creation, economic growth and business investment improves access to critical healthcare services, and expands access to educational resources and opportunities. Broadband access for farmers and ranchers would allow for improved stewardship of our natural resources through the use of technology to monitor and measure water and soil conditions and usage.

Local governments have joined forces in advocating for the acceleration of broadband deployment in California’s rural communities, and have outlined a number of key provisions. First, the technology deployed must be an appropriate fit for the area — high-speed fiber connections are imperative. Second, we must look to rural electrification as a model, and fund local municipalities to develop the infrastructure, and provide the services. Lastly, local governments should be empowered to step up as lead partners with the federal government to formulate and execute upon strategies that achieve broad-based access to high-speed services.

When high-speed connectivity is unavailable, too slow, or too expensive, it has a significant impact on the economic success and quality of life in these communities. As a result of the digital divide, rural communities are suffering, and struggle to tap basic resources including educational opportunities, medical care, economic and trade opportunities, and vital government services, including public safety.

We’re aware of the challenges involved in deploying adequate capacity across the broadband infrastructure in California’s rural communities. Rugged terrain, remote locations, and sparse populations are all factors that lead to increased deployment and maintenance costs. However, these challenges must be addressed in order to provide this fundamental socio-economic tool and resource to the residents within these communities. While technological advances such as 5G are beneficial to the overall industry, this type of innovation only serves to create a greater chasm between the haves and the have-nots. Priority should be focused on an equitable deployment of appropriate level services throughout the state, not on the next big thing for the fortunate few.

Community-driven broadband partnerships offer a solution. We can quickly resolve this problem by including local communities in the process of choosing the appropriate means to deliver the requisite broadband to ensure quality of life, business growth, and household capital formation. In partnership with the federal government, communities can choose the approach to delivering broadband best suited to their specific needs. Options could include innovative public-private partnerships, other government financing, or through the enforced requirement of leveraging infrastructure investments made with federal dollars by incumbent providers. The Federal Communications Commission has deployed and earmarked enormous amounts of capital to closing the urban-rural divide that exists with access to broadband. Despite these massive influxes of capital, too many rural communities remain without access.

It is imperative that ubiquitous middle-mile fiber optic cable technology is provided at the speed of commerce to allow small to medium-sized businesses to compete in the digital global marketplace, and attract economic development opportunities to California’s rural communities. Although we have made advancements in expanding broadband, there is more to do to ensure that universal access to broadband services is realized for all rural residents. Now is the time — we must allow local communities to develop high-speed solutions that fit their rural communities’ broadband infrastructure needs. Broadband is fundamentally necessary to a community’s economic health, quality of life, and opportunity at prosperity.

The source is HERE.

Comment:

The Federal funding to improve rural access to broadband is the Connect America II Fund, which is a 10-year program.  The telco 5G build-out is expected to take at least a decade. If the LEO satellite programs from SpaceX, Amazon, OneWeb, LeoSat, and Telesat are successful, space-based broadband will become available in 2021 which is only two years away. By 2024 there will be multiple broadband satellite companies competing for rural communities business. These companies are planning to provide 4G and 5G backhaul services at a lower cost than fiber, which has to deal with “rugged terrain, remote locations, and sparse populations.”  One of the obstacles to satellite broadband is the current CPUC and CETF policies which discriminate against satellite services. These are policies that were put in place due to the low speeds, long latency and high cost of geo-satellite broadband services.  LEO satellites latency is on par with cable networks and shared fiber services, and current speeds are equal to cable internet and on long distances exceed fiber speeds.  These policies need to be revisited and adjusted to match future broadband services. More in this issue in future posts.