back to article SpaceX asks to test broadband in SPAAACE

Elon Musk's SpaceX has filed its long-anticipated application to test a satellite-based broadband service with the Federal Communications Commission. The filing requests permission to beam signals down to “three broadband array test ground stations” on the US West Coast. Elon's satellites won't suffer the unbearable delays …

  1. MacroRodent

    Firewall beater

    I wonder if such a satellite could be made powerful enough when transmitting and sensitive enough when listening, so that consumer WLAN equipment could be used to contact it? (Possibly supplemented with a directional "Pringles can" antenna)? That would by-pass the firewalls of authoritarian regimes (or at least of those that cannot shoot down satellites...).

    1. Tromos

      Re: Firewall beater

      Unfortunately, those authoritarian regimes that don't have the capability to shoot down satellites usually do have the capability to shoot down the owners of Pringles cans.

    2. chris 143

      Re: Firewall beater


      There's a reason that the WiFi frequencies aren't used for TV/radio/mobile phone networks etc....

  2. JeffyPoooh

    Testing antenna configurations?


    Antenna system performance is something that can be precisely modeled. The only thing that needs to be tested is the unfolding mechanism for any space-based hardware.

    Waste of time.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: Testing antenna configurations?

      I think it would be worth testing the whole system, to see if assumptions about loss budget, pointing accuracy, and scattering are valid. I agree, the actual antenna should not be a mystery.

      1. James Hughes 1

        Re: Testing antenna configurations?

        Hmm, let me think.

        Do I believe SpaceX, the rather clever people behind the satellites and the ones coughing up the rather considerable costs to launch them, or some Register commentators.

        Touch choice.

        On the other hand, perhaps it's just a little bit more than 'testing the antennas'?

        1. JeffyPoooh

          Re: Testing antenna configurations?

          @James Hughes 1

          Some of the The Register's commentards are actually rather well qualified to comment on specific topics that are within their area of expertise. Examples are common.

          Antenna and communications system modeling isn't 'rocket science', it's 'antenna and communications system modeling', which is different. SpaceX's expertise at rocket science doesn't directly translate.

          No, I'm not going to recite my knowledge and experience on antenna systems, because 'On the Internet, nobody knows that you're a dog.' Pointless, by definition.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Testing antenna configurations?

      IIRC, that only applies for a STATIONARY antenna. These will be MOVING in orbits what may not be terribly precise. No to mention the need to transmit through a fickle atmosphere.

      Put it this way. Even GPS has its bad days simply because their orbits can drift just so due to mechanics and the atmosphere can play havoc with their signals. That's why even on a good day your location fix has a tendency to wobble.

      1. DrMordrid

        Re: Testing antenna configurations?

        The antenna will be miniature phased arrays at both ends, which means they'll be aimed electronically. Over the last few years chip-level phased arrays have started appearing. SpsceX & U. Texas Rio Grande Valley will be working on a new version at the STARGATE tech development/space tracking center next to SpaceX's new launch center outside of Brownsville TX.

      2. JeffyPoooh

        Re: Testing antenna configurations?


        GPS do not drift enough the affect the signal strength. What varies with GPS is primarily the ionosphere density. L-band signal strength is not usually impacted by weather enough to matter.

        Not one iota of your post has anything to do with 'testing antenna configurations'.

  3. Robert E A Harvey

    Excited now.

    SPACE! and radio. is there a better mixture?

    1. lawndart

      Re: Excited now.

      Bacon & HP sauce?

      Seriously, though. I would have thought cubesats would be a bit advanced for a first step.

      Possibly octagonal or maybe hexagonal for a start, assuming we are past the whole spherical thing.

      1. Robert E A Harvey

        Re: Excited now.

        Space, Bacon, space, bacon. Oh Lordy, how do I decide!

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Excited now.

        ...why would you do that to innocent bacon?

    2. JeffyPoooh

      Re: Excited now.

      Agree. My portable satellite radio (XM Inno) still excites me with its ability to convert signals from geostationary orbit into BBC World Service or music channels if you wish. It's a tiny handheld little thing, smaller than a mobile phone.

      I hope one of these outfits does the same sort of thing for high speed internet. A LEO near-polar constellation obviously. Like Iridium Next, but with some actual high data rate speed.

  4. Roj Blake


    Let's hope that it works better than previous attempts at satellite broadband. Aramiska's latency was truly awful.

    1. JeffyPoooh

      Re: Aramiska

      LEO is key to avoid high latency.

      Network in the sky is key to avoid the cost of zillions of ground stations, and provide coverage.

      Near polar orbit is key to worldwide coverage.

      Same as Iridium Next, but need to bump up the speed (a lot) and drop the cost (a lot).

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