On February 22, 2018, SpaceX company planned to launch a rocket with two test satellites. The start was postponed three times already, but this is not surprising – these are the first tests of the Starlink project, which, according to the authors, by 2024 will provide the world with a connection. To do this, the company Ilona Mask will launch into orbit thousands of satellites with an average speed of up to gigabit per second.
Many details of the program are carefully concealed, but, apparently, for SpaceX it is not only a chance to break out into the leaders in the race for Internet satellites, but also better prepare for the colonization of Mars.
How is the Starlink project organized?
SpaceX has been working on the Starlink project since the end of 2014 – it must provide every corner of the earth with the Internet through a network of orbiting satellites. All in all, 12,000 units weighing from 100 to 500 kilograms are planned to be delivered to orbit – these are very lightweight devices, so in the future they are likely to be launched in large numbers and using simple missiles.
In the world there are only a few providers that provide access to the Internet through satellites. Usually the devices are located at an altitude of up to 40 thousand kilometers, which allows even one to cover half the Earth. However, the large distance between the satellite and the antenna on the planet leads to strong signal delays. Starlink has to correct this problem – the satellites of the project will be located at an altitude of 335 to 1325 kilometers, which will allow many times to reduce delays.
As the scientific publication N + 1 writes , a modern satellite can simultaneously transmit a signal for 1200 satellite antennas , with up to several hundred computers able to connect to each. Most likely, so will work and spaceX devices. This means that at the same time they will be able to serve about 14.3 million satellite antennas – each of them will be allocated gigabit per second. In this case, on average, every computer connected to the dish will receive 10-15 megabits per second.
It is not yet known what equipment will be required to receive the SpaceX signal on the planet. Usually, to get access to the Internet through satellites, you need a transceiver (converting a satellite signal into a regular network) and a satellite dish – on average this will cost 40-45 thousand rubles.
Why is SpaceX
Details Starlink carefully hide, so it is difficult to confidently say what is its benefit. If successful, SpaceX will also turn into a large Internet provider. According to Mask, the development of his company will provide a network of remote regions where it is difficult to conduct fiber-optic connection, and will take at least 10% of all traffic in cities and suburbs.
SpaceX uses mini satellites not only for technical reasons, but also because of their cheapness. The company estimates that the project costs $ 10 billion, and in a year’s time the income can reach $ 30 billion.
If everything turns out, SpaceX will have a new way to earn money and a chance to find additional investors for its main task – the colonization of Mars. Mask noted that the Internet satellites will be the connecting link between the Earth and the Red Planet – this is the most profitable and safe option for communication at such a long distance.
What will happen after the first launch of Internet satellites
SpaceX stressed that on February 22, only test satellite models will go into orbit, and the launch priority will be to put the Spanish satellite Paz into orbit (it is in the same rocket with Internet satellites, but not connected with the Starlink project).
In the event of a successful launch into orbit, two test satellites will connect to the SpaceX center in California to verify the quality of the signal transmission. What will happen to the devices on – it is not yet known, since the details of Starlink are kept secret. For example, it is still unclear how the company plans to put 12,000 satellites into orbit until 2024, because it will require either many launches on simple missiles, or several on large ones – for example, Falcon Heavy.
In addition to Ilona Mask, the British organization OneWeb (invested by Richard Branson), Samsung, Boeing and Telesat break into the sphere of Internet satellites. All these organizations have already received permission from the Federal Communications Commission to use American radio waves for signal transmission. SpaceX has not yet received approval, but it seems to be a matter of time.
The permission to use radio waves is necessary for the company Mask to broadcast satellite signals to the territory of a specific country. According to the plan, first the devices will work in the US, Canada and Western Europe. In other countries, they will be able to transmit the signal only with the permission of the authorities. If the state does not give out access, SpaceX will have to either turn off broadcasting of satellites in the territory, or companies can prohibit the delivery of the necessary equipment to these countries.
There are already precedents – in mid-February 2018 the State Commission for Radio Frequencies of Russia did not allocate frequencies for OneWeb. As explained by theauthorities, the requested frequency is necessary for satellites, which will provide a connection base in the Arctic.