Cash on delivery, first one to put a lunar lander on the moon gets paid
America's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted an application by SpaceX to bring some of its broadband satellites closer to Earth. The authorisation reduces the maximum number of birds allowed in the constellation by one from 4,409 to 4,408, and reduces the operational altitude for 2,814 of the satellites from …
Space and orbits are an international resource.
Why did Starlink get approval just on USA agreement in the first place?
How does the FCC have the authority to allow these 500 km lower when they are not above the USA? Actually only one height makes a satellite appear to be always above the USA.
Also it's INTERNET satellites. Not Broadband. Peak speed doesn't make it broadband. Contention? Security & Evesdropping? Protocols?
What's the operational life?
>Space and orbits are an international resource.
The galactic council disagrees
>How does the FCC have the authority to allow these 500 km lower
They don't. they just have the ability to pull Starlink's license to sell internet services to US customers. Which means that Starlink has to do what they say if they want to make money.
Azerbaijan's telecom regulator could refuse permission and threaten Starlink's ability to sell services in their country - and Starlink will ignore them.
>Peak speed doesn't make it broadband.
Actually message bandwidth greater than coherence bandwidth makes it broadband.
Starlink does 300mbs, that's faster than I get with my single monopoly supplier of cable 'broadband' at home
>What's the operational life?
Quite small, < 5years. Short life means you can use cheaper platforms, don't need radiation hard space grade components and can replace them as hw gets cheaper and better. The only reason for very long life of conventional comms satellites was the huge launch costs, which SpaceX has a handle on.
Azerbaijan's telecom regulator could refuse permission and threaten Starlink's ability to sell services in their country - and Starlink will ignore them.
Actually this is a common problem.. Individual countries can (and do) pass laws restricting the use of certain frequencies/technologies...
Much like it was illegal during WWII to listen to the BBC in Axis occupied Europe... We have certain countries restricting the use of unmonitored communication. Some on the list are surprising... some are the usual suspects. Of course.. We also have the US restricting technology to certain countries due to economic embargoes. The following are restricted or illegal by the host countries themselves (although a US embargo applies to the sale of services to nationals of some of these countries... it in theory does not apply to the use of the technology by eligible parties in said host country. )
We have countries like:
Bangladesh, North Korea, India, Myanmar, Cuba, Iran, Poland, Hungary, China, Russia (needed permission).
The list is changing, and there are 'radio direction finders' that may be used to track down any illegal broadcasting, if such a country does desire to search out miscreants....
How does the FCC get to rule on this? I believe hat would be the 1967 "Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies" which says each country is responsible for what they put up there. You don't obtain individual permission from every single country you fly over. It's not like satellites could change their altitude when overflying France, for instance.
Does 75-150 Mbps downstream and 20-25 Mbps upstream count as broadband? That's consistently what I get from my Starlink connection.
When I get 75 Mbps, I know that II've fallen back to 2.4 GHz on my WiFi. The Starlink router isn't very configurable, so my fix is to toggle WiFi off and back on again. Eventually I'll upgrade to a different router and will split SSIDs for 2.4 and 5 GHz (will also add a 5GHz accesd point to improve coverage).
In the mean time, I just marvel at the fact that my WiFi AP can be my bottleneck. I used to have DSL, so that's a nice change.
But how many people are using it vs the target of how many people they want signed up?
Does any arbitrary VPN software work? Can you get a fixed IP? What is the jitter?
It has to make a profit per satellite in less than five years.
Nothing like Starlink was envisaged when the rules were written.
Contention will be what it is, but I suggest that they probably did a little bit of maths before launching the first bird.
I don't know about VPN, but I can't imagine why they would restrict it - I could easily imagine them using CGNAT though, although to be fair the routing is probably so far outside normal protocols that it doesn't really make a difference.
They only need to make a profit per constellation - and again, I am sure they have managed to find the corner of a napkin or the back of an envelope to work out if it's economically sustainable. The whole point is that they control the launch costs, and are using cheap hardware.
VPNs work, lots of beta testers are WFH and rely on them. Jitter is minimal for me, YMMV.
During the beta, IPv4 is CGNAT, IPv6 is rolling out experimentally. The stock starlink router doesn't yet support IPv6, but people who use their own routers are starting to see real IPv6 assignments.
Contention will be a challenge. That's part of why they're very clear that starlink isn't a good solution for densely populated areas.
There are teething issues one would expect with a beta test. Software updates are relatively frequent, service hiccups happen. The constellation is also very incomplete, so coverage at low latitudes is still developing. They have around 1400 satellites in orbit, but only about 880 are at their service altitudes.
Thanks Msr Speed. Nice article.
I personally am not a devout Musk / SpaceX fan by stretch of the imagination. But I am impressed by progress, speedy progress.
Also. NASA are not fools. Yes restricted to a budget, but also forseeing and expediting progress in areas that are for the competitors to demonstrate, is wise.
Time halts for no man. Why spend $ on waitin? Progress is effort, test, learn.
I personally, prefer the style of the "not a parking meter situation." (move /do something in some time or ..)
It's progress. It's PUSHING progress.
ACTION. Not bollox.
> Protests from the likes of Viasat, Kepler, and Kuiper concerning issues such as interference were dismissed by the FCC.
Money talks, and when money talks, everybody else shuts up! Period.
I'm no specialist, but I can imagine that huge sheets of metallic objects between sender and receiver might create problems. But who cares, they are somebody else's problems, aren't they.
The Wild West period of space has officially started...
But being able to watch porn, access Facebook and buy tat from Amazon is far more important that any real science that comes out of those platforms.
Money talks and as ever, regulation is seen as an inconvenience to work around rather than adhere to.
If it gets these Starlink bean tins out of the physical way of the expensive communications, GPS & science platforms then is at least something. These things are so cheap and disposable that they really don't care. We have already had one near fiasco where ESA had to move a platform out of they way because the buggers claimed not to have seen the warnings. Musk knows full well that when the chips are down, NSAS, ESA and all the other bodies with major satellites will always take the safe option with avoidance. They have far more to lose than the space equivalent of a can of beans.
Now if NASA needed space to do something that produced some magical fairy dust that could make Musk's Tesla's recharge in 5 minutes it would be a different story.
A Tesla Model S - battery apparently holds about 100kWh. Some good old GCSE physics goes a long way to explaining why a 5 min charge is near-ludicrous.
The power delivery required for a full charge is about 1200kW of DC power (100*60/5). That means pumping 5000A at 240VDC, or about 2900A at 415VDC. (Using P=V*I). Ignoring losses.
A cable capable of handling that kind of power is a pretty chunky lump of copper. For comparison, a quad-bundle transmission overhead line handles about 4000A of continuous load. That'll be at about 75 degrees C or so. So you have to add heavy insulation to your conductor to allow it to be picked up. And also limit the maximum surface temperature. You'll be hard pressed to get a cable to take that load without a decently long cooldown period between uses while observing those practical temperature limits.
Higher voltages help, but that carries other, obvious problems.
Throw in the fact that your local substation probably can't handle many loads that big, and the infrastructure coming from the sub to every house on your suburban estate definitely can't take that much.
All things considered a 15-20 min recharge with a coffee is rather more sensible a proposition than a 5 minute turbocharge.
If matching the convenience levels of existing chemical tech with electricity is the goal, a whole lot more infrastructure is needed (and who is paying for it / who is borrowing the money to do it / who gets it first etc?)
"The power delivery required for a full charge is about 1200kW of DC power (100*60/5). That means pumping 5000A at 240VDC, or about 2900A at 415VDC. (Using P=V*I). Ignoring losses."
We've been promised a 'national network' of fast chargers -- but it seems that the public still thinks about a 13amp plug as a 'power connector'.
The local charging points are just single phase, low current, sucking on the street lamp supply.
I guess this means swapping the 13amp fuse for kitchen foil again.
The idea of the large charging stations directly connected to the transmission grid at motorway services is a good one, and is capable of delivering those very large quantities of power more or less without blinking. Assuming the consumer end of the charger can be constructed in a way to make them safe for Joe Average to use.
But down at distribution levels, stuff coming into your street, neither the network, nor the investment in the network is there. And it would be a very, very large investment to be able to put chargers throughout, let alone fast chargers.
There are other not so minor considerations about what you do with areas like Newcastle city centre Jesmond; nobody parks outside their own house. Standardised charging point plugs are a joke (just look at how many adapters are on the average Ecotricity point) and the billing method also to be worked out.
It is all technically possible, but it needs the financial backing to do so.
> charging stations directly connected to the transmission grid at motorway services
This implies that you only have
gas electricity stations where motorways are near a high capacity power line, which would limit their numbers. The alternative of building additional high tension lines all across the country is clearly impossible, due to the huge cost and general NIMBing.
I'm afraid recharging will have to make do with whatever electrical capacity is locally available, which means that charging will be quite slow (at best) in most places, once EVs become really common. We might even see the invention of "Recharging hotels" in more capacity-limited areas, where you sleep overnight while your car gets slowly recharged...
If the proposed addition of the 12GHz spectrum to 5G goes forward, Starlink broadband terminals across America could be crippled, or so SpaceX has complained.
The Elon Musk biz made the claim [PDF] this week in a filing to the FCC, which is considering allowing Dish to operate a 5G service in the 12GHz band (12.2-12.7GHz). This frequency range is also used by Starlink and others to provide over-the-air satellite internet connectivity.
SpaceX said its own in-house study, conducted in Las Vegas, showed "harmful interference from terrestrial mobile service to SpaceX's Starlink terminals … more than 77 percent of the time, resulting in full outages 74 percent of the time." It also claimed the interference will extend to a minimum of 13 miles from base stations. In other words, if Dish gets to use these frequencies in the US, it'll render nearby Starlink terminals useless through wireless interference, it was claimed.
SpaceX has reportedly reacted to an open letter requesting accountability for Elon Musk by firing those involved.
The alleged dismissals come just two days after an open letter to SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell began circulating in a SpaceX Teams channel. The missive from employees said Musk's recent actions have been a source of distraction and embarrassment for SpaceX staff.
The letter asked for the company to "swiftly and explicitly separate itself" from Musk's personal brand, hold all leadership accountable for their actions, and asked that SpaceX clearly define what behaviors it considers unacceptable. The authors also said the company failed to apply its stated diversity, equity, and inclusion goals, "resulting in a workplace culture that remains firmly rooted in the status quo."
SpaceX is one step closer to securing a permit to launch not just its first rocket from Boca Chica, Texas but its reusable super-heavy lifter at that.
And by one step closer, we mean: the US Federal Aviation Administration has issued more than 75 requirements for SpaceX to fulfill, which are aimed at minimizing the environmental impact of its launches on residents and wildlife.
Those requirements [PDF], made public Monday by the watchdog, list a series of concerns and actions SpaceX needs to take before it can hope to get the green light to use Boca Chica as intended. The FAA wants SpaceX to complete this environmental review and mitigate the effects of repeatedly launching and landing its giant reusable 120-metre Starship on the air, water, climate, peace and quiet, and land around the launchpad.
A group of employees at SpaceX wrote an open letter to COO and president Gwynne Shotwell denouncing owner Elon Musk's public behavior and calling for the rocket company to "swiftly and explicitly separate itself" from his personal brand.
The letter, which was acquired through anonymous SpaceX sources, calls Musk's recent behavior in the public sphere a source of distraction and embarrassment. Musk's tweets, the writers argue, are de facto company statements because "Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX."
Musk's freewheeling tweets have landed him in hot water on multiple occasions – one incident even leaving him unable to tweet about Tesla without a lawyer's review and approval.
A letter has been filed with America's communications watchdog confirming that SpaceX and OneWeb, which are building mega-constellations of broadband satellites, are content to play nicely.
The letter sweeps all the unpleasantness between the two neatly under the rug "after extensive good-faith coordination discussions." Despite what could charitably be described as snarky remarks about each other to the FCC over the years, the duo have agreed that their first-generation broadband satellite services can, after all, co-exist.
"Their respective second-round systems can also efficiently coexist with each other while protecting their respective first-round systems," the memo, dated June 13 and shared by Reuters' journo Joey Roulette today, reads.
The saga of the US government's plan to rip and replace China-made communications kit from the country's networks has a new twist: following reports that applications for funding far outstripped the cash set aside, it appears two-thirds of such applications lack adequate cost estimates or sufficient supporting evidence.
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) informed Congress that it had found deficiencies in 122 of the 181 of the applications filed with it by US carriers for funding to reimburse them for replacing telecoms equipment sourced from Chinese companies.
The FCC voted nearly a year ago to reimburse medium and small carriers in the US for removing and replacing all network equipment provided by companies such as Huawei and ZTE. The telecoms operators were required to do this in the interests of national security under the terms of the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act.
Twitter has reportedly thrown its $44 billion buyout by Elon Musk to a shareholder vote, which could take place around late July or early August.
Execs told employees of the plans on Wednesday, according to outlets including CNBC and the Financial Times.
In a report published earlier this week, the Secure World Foundation, a space-oriented NGO, warned that in the past few years there's been a surge of interest in offensive counterspace weapons that can disrupt space-based services.
"The existence of counterspace capabilities is not new, but the circumstances surrounding them are," the report [PDF] says. "Today there are increased incentives for development, and potential use, of offensive counterspace capabilities."
"There are also greater potential consequences from their widespread use that could have global repercussions well beyond the military, as huge parts of the global economy and society are increasingly reliant on space applications."
Elon Musk must personally secure $33.5 billion to fund his $44 billion Twitter purchase after allowing a $12.5 billion margin loan against Tesla stock to expire.
Regulatory filings released Wednesday show the Tesla and SpaceX boss agreeing to secure "an additional $6.25 billion in equity financing" on top of the original $27.3 billion.
The Tesla boss's Twitter purchase originally relied on $21bn of equity that he had to provide along with $12.5bn in margin loans secured by his Tesla stock. That margin loan was dropped to $6.25bn on May 5, and this additional financing would eliminate it altogether.
Starlink customers who've been itching to take their dish on the road can finally do so – for a price.
The Musk-owned satellite internet service provider quietly rolled out a feature this week called Portability which, for an additional $25 per month, will allow customers to take their service with them anywhere on the same continent – provided they can find a clear line-of-sight to the sky and the necessary power needed to keep the data flowing.
That doesn't mean potential Starlink customers sign up for service in an area without a wait list and take their satellite to a more congested area. Sneaky, but you won't get away with it. If Starlink detects a dish isn't at its home address, there's no guarantee of service if there's not enough bandwidth to go around, or there's another outage.
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