Tomorrow at 4:30 Polish SpaceX company will shoot soon Own satellites from the Starlink family. Company Elona Muska wants to enter the new market of Internet services.
SpaceX is a small company, and the profit margin of the current activity is not large. In the meantime, the company has great ambitions, wants to send people into space. In order to achieve them, he must find additional sources of income. One of them can be providing internet connections anywhere in the world.
The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket with the first elements of the Starlink constellation was to be held on the night from Wednesday to Thursday by Polish time, but it was delayed due to strong winds blowing in the upper parts of the atmosphere. Within a few hours, SpaceX will again try to launch Starline's construction.
SpaceX usually consists of loads ordered by NASA and private companies. This time, his satellites should reach orbit, and Falcon will execute them at the same time 60. In time, more will be sent, and the ultimate goal is to provide the signal in almost every place on Earth.
Elon Musk said that the total mass of satellites, which amounts to almost 14 tonnes, was the heaviest burden on the Falcon 9 rocket, he added that Starlink satellites would transmit to themselves earth stations. However, lasers are missing that would allow direct communication between satellites. Lasers can be found in future versions of StarLink.
If everything goes according to plan, the satellites will leave the rocket for an hour after launch and go to Earth's low orbit (LEO). Two or three hours later it will be included. Elon Musk is cautious this time and is eager for people who can not wait to take advantage of the new SpaceX offer. We used a lot of new technologies there. It's possible that some of the satellites will not work. In fact, it is also possible, although the probability is small, that all satellites will refuse to complysaid Musk.
SpaceX is entering a market where there is already competition. Many companies already offer satellite internet. Their devices use geo-stationary orbit (GEO). The advantage of this solution is that the satellite circulates around the Earth at the same time as the Earth rotates around its own axis. So, the satellite still hangs above the same point and provides communication in the area that covers its reach. The lack of satellite placement on GEO is the fact that the orbit is at an altitude of about 36,000 kilometers above the Earth. This again means that for practical two-way communication the signal must pass over 70,000 kilometers. Therefore, there may be delays that can be seen where faster data exchange is required, as is the case in online video games. In addition, currently satellites set to GEO do not cover the whole area of the planet with their signal.
The Earth's low orbit is at an altitude of 200-2000 kilometers. The signal has a much shorter path to go, and in practice, the delay should not be higher than when the signal from the Earth is used. However, as LEO satellites move much faster than Earth, the area covered by the signal from a particular satellite is constantly changing. Therefore, if we want to ensure continuous communication in a given area, we need to have many satellites, whose movement is synchronized so that when one satellite leaves the area, another satellite immediately fills up its place.
Mark Juncosa, vice-president of SpaceX in charge of engineering issues, says that after 12 additional launches with Starlink satellites, his company will cover all US services with its services, after 24 launches will be able to provide connectivity in the densest populated areas, and after 30 startups from Starlink will be available worldwide.
Starlink is an extremely important venture in SpaceX plans. As we have already mentioned, the company needs money to implement its basic plans for sending people to space. According to Elon Muska, business revenues related to moving people and goods in the order can in the future reach up to $ 3 billion a year, while potential Internet supply revenues can be even 10 times higher. We see this as a way to generate resources that we can use to create increasingly sophisticated rockets and space launch vehicles. This is a key element of the Moon Building Plan and the self-sufficient city on Mars, says Musk.
There remains another important problem. At present, there are about 2,000 operational satellites in the LEO. If everything goes as planned, most satellites around Earth will be part of SpaceX. That's a big deal, Recognizes Musk. We can also assume that competition will not fall asleep in pearls. In the following years around our planet can circulate more times more satellites than today. In the meantime, cosmic garbage is an increasing problem. More and more satellites mean, on the one hand, that those who destroy or end their working hours will become more and more waste, on the other hand, the more they are, the greater the risk of collision with the existing garbage, and as a result of any such collision. a huge number of remains and the risk of collision with operating satellites is rising again.
Musk says that each of Starlink satellites will be equipped with orbits of all known space remnants and will be able to avoid them. In addition, it ensures that inactive satellites will fall to Earth over time and 95% will burn in the atmosphere. This, however, means that from each satellite on the surface will fall a dozen kilograms of residue. According to SpaceX assurance, they will be directed to the Pacific Ocean.
The risk that someone on Earth will be wounded or killed from the fall of the falling satellite is minimal. However, taking into account the fact that the number of satellites and the number of people is rising rapidly, it can be expected that in the coming years we will read reports on people affected by space waste.
Update (17/05/2019): the start is delayed until next week.