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Thread: With latency as low as 25ms, SpaceX to launch broadband satellites in 2019

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    Moderator Dr Mordrid's Avatar
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    Default With latency as low as 25ms, SpaceX to launch broadband satellites in 2019

    After all 12,000 birds are up, launching dozens at a time on reused rockets, coverage will be worldwide.

    Launches will be on re-flown Falcon 9's with dozens of satellites per shot. Between this and military launches, the Vandenberg AFB SpaceX pad is going to be very busy.

    The satellite and Hall effect thruster factories are already up in Redmond, WA and chip & other development is being done in Palo Alto by a top tier team snatched from Broadcom (and did they ever scream!) Other work being done by engineers headhunted Microsoft and other bigs.

    Google is also a player in this, with both investment and intellectual property (see the video).

    Description (PDF)

    https://thespaceport.us/forum/index....ttach_id=34806

    Ars....

    With latency as low as 25ms, SpaceX to launch broadband satellites in 2019

    Satellites will function like a mesh network and deliver gigabit speeds.


    SpaceX today said its planned constellation of 4,425 broadband satellites will launch from the Falcon 9 rocket beginning in 2019 and continue launching in phases until reaching full capacity in 2024.

    SpaceX gave the Senate Commerce Committee an update on its satellite plans during a broadband infrastructure hearing this morning via testimony by VP of satellite government affairs Patricia Cooper. Satellite Internet access traditionally suffers from high latency, relatively slow speeds, and strict data caps. But as we reported in November, SpaceX says it intends to solve these problems with custom-designed satellites launched into low-Earth orbits.

    SpaceX mentioned 2019 as a possible launch date in an application filed with the Federal Communications Commission in November and offered a more specific launch timeline today. Cooper told senators:

    Later this year, SpaceX will begin the process of testing the satellites themselves, launching one prototype before the end of the year and another during the early months of 2018. Following successful demonstration of the technology, SpaceX intends to begin the operational satellite launch campaign in 2019. The remaining satellites in the constellation will be launched in phases through 2024, when the system will reach full capacity with the Ka- and Ku-Band satellites. SpaceX intends to launch the system onboard our Falcon 9 rocket, leveraging significant launch cost savings afforded by the first stage reusability now demonstrated with the vehicle.

    The 4,425 satellites will "operat[e] in 83 orbital planes (at altitudes ranging from 1,110km to 1,325km)," and "require associated ground control facilities, gateway Earth stations, and end-user Earth stations," Cooper said. By contrast, the existing HughesNet satellite network has an altitude of about 35,400km, making for a much longer round-trip time than ground-based networks.

    SpaceX has also proposed an additional 7,500 satellites operating even closer to the ground, saying that this will boost capacity and reduce latency in heavily populated areas. But Cooper offered no specific timeline for this part of the project.

    There were an estimated 1,459 operating satellites orbiting Earth at the end of 2016, and the 4,425 satellites in SpaceX's planned initial launch would be three times that many. Other companies are also considering large satellite launches, raising concerns about potential collisions and a worsening "space junk problem," an MIT Technology Review article noted last month.

    SpaceX today urged the government to relax regulations related to satellite launches and to include satellite technology in any future broadband infrastructure legislation and funding.

    Network design

    SpaceX's satellites will essentially operate as a mesh network and "allocate broadband resources in real time, placing capacity where it is most needed and directing energy away from areas where it might cause interference to other systems, either in space or on the ground," Cooper said. Satellites will beam directly to gateway stations and terminals at customers' homes, a strategy that will greatly reduce the amount of infrastructure needed on the ground, particularly in rural and remote areas, she said.

    "In other words, the common challenges associated with siting, digging trenches, laying fiber, and dealing with property rights are materially alleviated through a space-based broadband network," she said.

    Customer terminals will be the size of a laptop. While speeds should hit a gigabit per second, SpaceX said it "intends to market different packages of data at different price points, accommodating a variety of consumer demands." Current satellite ISPs have latencies of 600ms or more, according to FCC measurements, but SpaceX has said its own system will have latencies between 25 and 35ms. That's better than DSL and similar to several of today's major cable and fiber systems, according to FCC measurements. The measurements show that the Altice-owned Optimum and Verizon FiOS had latencies of just over 10ms, better than what SpaceX is expecting to achieve

    SpaceX promised that its satellite technology won't become stale after launch. The company's "satellite manufacturing cost profile and in-house launch capability" will allow it to continually update the system's technology to meet changing customer needs, Cooper said.
    Last edited by Dr Mordrid; 3rd May 2017 at 20:11.
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    Moderator VJ's Avatar
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    Interesting...
    I just wonder if it is upgradeable enough. They mention gigabit speeds, which is fast now, but 5G is said to support up to 10 Gbps (in South Korea they even mention up to 20 Gbps). By the time the spaceX system is up, its speed may already be the norm. Of course, the global aspect of it is appealing, but with roaming costs going down it seems reasonable that data roaming will also become cheaper if not a basic feature of a subscription. Add to that the laptop-sized terminal (compared to 4G/5G dongles), and I wonder who is the audience aimed at... Home users would not care about the global coverage, mobile users would want something smaller.

    Upgrading it probably means launching new satellites, so they really would have to be able to do that at a price that competes with the cost of upgrading other technologies. Also, with 12000 orbiting satellites, chances of malfunctions and damages by debris become almost a statistical certainty.


    Sorry, just some open questions I have...


    Edit:
    According to http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear-weapon...llite-database , there currently are about 1400 active satellites. This gives an indication on the scale of their plan. I read in another source that the lifetime of their satellites is between 5-7 years, so that does mean there will have to be frequent replacements and thus possibilities for updating the infrastructure.
    Last edited by VJ; 4th May 2017 at 03:34.
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    At this year's World Mobile Conference Samsung's 5G home routers were only 4 gigabits, and the US average speed is only 55 megabits. Not to mention much of the middle US has no broadbands at all, much less gigabit, and it's expensive where it is available.

    Musk has made it clear his primary target customers will be in such under and unserved areas, and at a lower price point. This would include virtually all of Michigan, save for downtown Detroit where businesses & gentrified downtowners have Rocket Fiber. It will also include emerging nations, remote areas, aircraft, ships at sea, apartment dwellers where only 1 option is available etc.

    The replacement of 20% of the constellation a year is baked in, mainly to upgrade the system, but with reusable launchers and a small satellite size they can be put up in bunches. While the 5.2 x 13.1 meter fairing should hold a lot, DoD may want a 5.2 x 19 meter fairing for some of their launches and it could up the capacity further. This is very much expected.

    As far as collisions go, these birds talk to each other over a laser meshed network for routing, so bad actors can be detected and a forced de-orbit performed. Additionally, the main higher orbit and very low orbit (VLO) were chosen because they're not very populated. The 7,500 satellite VLO is so low that without the ion drive to reboost them they passively deorbit themselves.

    Falcon 9 will be able to handle the multi-payload now that it's reusable and the Block 5 upgrade will give it about 4 tonnes more orbital mass than Proton. Not to mention Falcon Heavy
    Last edited by Dr Mordrid; 4th May 2017 at 23:41.
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    Moderator VJ's Avatar
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    Yes... But still a big endeavor: 20% of 4000 makes 800 satellites per year. That is almost half of what is currently up there. Even though the orbits are not very populated now, by putting so many satellites in it, they will actually become more populated than the current popular orbits. Of course there will have algorithms to detect bad actors and perform actions, but there are other pieces of debris and/or there may be other pieces of debris in the future.

    Several companies want to set up a mesh of low orbit or very low orbit satellites for iot and m2m (e.g. Magnitude Space wants 48 mini satellites by 2021; first services will already start in 2018; Orbcomm is another example ). So it looks like it is the lower orbits will get crowded, very soon.

    Even if something bad happening has a low probability, with different players all entering in such a short time frame and considering the sheer number of satellites, there will be a higher possibility of it happening.
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    And it's the wave of the future. USAF, NOAA, other constellations like OneWeb, Earth imaging outfits are all going for some sort of VLEO to HLEO constellation.

    For SpaceX's part their high birds will be in 83 different orbital planes and segregated into altitude lanes. Basically, the closest birds to any single one will be those hundreds of km behind and ahead of it.

    Dealing with existing debris is a cost of doing business.
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    It looks useful for Internet in rural areas, undeveloped areas, and on the go. But no way I'd give up my fiber Gb land connection for it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jammrock View Post
    It looks useful for Internet in rural areas, undeveloped areas, and on the go. But no way I'd give up my fiber Gb land connection for it.
    That was my thinking although on the go regular 4G/5G should be better (no laptop case size terminal for instance). But perhaps there is some sort of jurisdictional issue here as well, i.e. maybe it is a way to circumvent all kinds of regulations on ISPs?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Umfriend View Post
    That was my thinking although on the go regular 4G/5G should be better (no laptop case size terminal for instance). But perhaps there is some sort of jurisdictional issue here as well, i.e. maybe it is a way to circumvent all kinds of regulations on ISPs?
    The US states have a broad home rule authority, in many ways countries within a country. Municipalities such as counties and cities often have strong home rule within a given state. Most of the laws we live under are state and local, not Federal. Being so used to such autonomy is why the populace bristles at the Federal govt. sticking it's nose into local affairs. As in, pissed off.

    Many local jurisdictions and states (21 +/-) restrict cable/fiber ISPs to the highest bidder, and so do apartment complexes and other multi-family dwellings.

    Then there are the states and counties in the far West or Midwest where the population density isn't high enough for ISPs to bother running lines. Not economical, so they go underserved or unserved unless people use dialup or pay through their ass for geostationary satellite internet (Hughes etc.) which has high latencies and not so hot speeds.

    Population densities (persons per sq/km)

    Korea: 500
    UK: 262.84
    Germany: 231.25

    US average: 33.77
    Nebraska: 9.4
    North Dakota: 4.0
    Wyoming: 2.3
    Alaska: 0.5

    etc.

    Musk has a large potential customer base just in the US, the center 60% of the country, and judging by a hearing last week Congress is very interested in encouraging these satellite internet constellations. So are the FCC, DoD, businesses etc.

    The Dept. of Transportation also wants a piece because autonomous vehicles are going to hit the US in a big way and they'll all be connected for mapping, rerouting alerts etc.

    Autonomous vehicles are already legal here in Michigan, and Tesla reveals their electric Semi autonomy optional long haul truck in September. Ford is prepping a car with no steering wheel or pedals for 2020.
    Last edited by Dr Mordrid; 6th May 2017 at 01:27.
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    But then the question is: can you have a big enough userbase to keep the usercost of the VLO satellite system low enough...
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    Google thinks so, as does Fidelity. Both are in this with SpaceX having already invested $1 billion. WSJ reported an estimate of $30b a year gross, $22b net revenues after full rollout.

    They are building their own satellites and Hall thrusters in Seattle/Redmond using modular design and robots. They even produce their own boards, radios, modems, carbide laser mirrors, solar arrays (Solar City,) etc.

    Double down by launching and replacing them themselves in big bunches. If the rumors of a new 18-20 meter fairing are true they could launch an entire orbital plane on one Falcon Heavy with stage reuse.

    Vertical integration where ever possible.

    Exception: Dan Gurney's All American Racers builds the Falcon 9/FH landing legs.
    Last edited by Dr Mordrid; 8th May 2017 at 14:16.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Mordrid View Post
    Google thinks so, as does Fidelity. Both are in this with SpaceX having already invested $1 billion. WSJ reported an estimate of $30b a year gross, $22b net revenues after full rollout.
    So if we assume 50 million customers (just short of 1/6th of US population, a huge overestimate as clients will be households rather than individuals)... I'm assuming/hoping billion means 1000 million (link), so that equates to $600 per customer per year to get to a total of $30b gross anual revenue...

    Still not convinced they will gain enough customers in the start-up fase to survive the start-up fase...
    Of course, we should add some future in-vehicle internet access and more importantly connected vehicle options in there, and that may be where the money will be (if in time 50% of the cars would be connected using it, then it becomes a whole different ballgame), and I would not be surprised if that would be their core target. So with that in mind they may pull it off...
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    They may get 50 million users in just the US. We have 320+ million people and well over half are underserved or unserved. Gigabit? Forgetaboutit, a 1%er segment and even then.... There was a big congressional hearing on this last week and SpaceX was front and center.

    This will also have other uses including DoD and hosted DoD, NASA, NOAA and commercial sensors - a big factor in bottom lining.

    Example: an outfit called Capella has developed a tiny synthetic aperture radar with 1 meter resolution. Multispectral cameras, straight optical, IR to detect missile launchers etc. Earth imaging payloads can fit in a 10x10x30 cm space massing <3 kg.
    Last edited by Dr Mordrid; 9th May 2017 at 12:23.
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    Not entirely true. I have fiber and I live at the suburban/rural cut off. Though I'm in Charlotte, which is a Google fiber area so others have pushed fiber roll outs to compete.

    But during the Obama years there was a big subsidy setup to provide rural internet access. My friend in BFE North Dakota has fiber internet. Granted there won't be any more subsidies like that any time soon...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Mordrid View Post
    This will also have other uses including DoD and hosted DoD, NASA, NOAA and commercial sensors - a big factor in bottom lining.
    I would guess that to actually be a bigger factor than the internet access...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jammrock View Post
    Not entirely true. I have fiber and I live at the suburban/rural cut off. Though I'm in Charlotte, which is a Google fiber area so others have pushed fiber roll outs to compete.

    But during the Obama years there was a big subsidy setup to provide rural internet access. My friend in BFE North Dakota has fiber internet. Granted there won't be any more subsidies like that any time soon...
    There are subsidies, that's what the hearing was about.

    The list I have puts the underserved US population at or above 55 million, with some states nearly 40%. Texas has 4 million underserved, California 2.5 million, most Midwest anf Great lakes states 1-1.5 million each. Other locales only have dialup.
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