Author Topic: SpaceX FCC filing for a 4425 satellite constellation providing Internet service  (Read 75764 times)

Offline john smith 19

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That is highly speculative, even though the evidence we have is pretty solid. We'll see as the manifest solidifies, although I suppose SpaceX wouldn't necessarily even have to publicly acknowledge that it was its satellites as copassengers. FCC documents will be all the evidence we need, though!

In the sense that SpaceX is ahead of competitors, we really don't know much about that. If SpaceX does in fact launch it's first test satellites this year and they are relatively close to the finished product, they'll theoretically be ahead of OneWeb, their only near term competitors.

I expect at least some minor details about it in Adelaide. Crazy that the IAC is just over two weeks away  ;)
For all we know SX could have already launched one. We know they launch secondary payloads on a regular basis and like to iterate quickly.

That said I'd presume that if it did start transmissions they'd have to notify someone it was on orbit. I would not expect them to be actual units, just some of the key modules they really needed to know about.

BTW while the RF electronics is going to be crucial to make this work it's the "peripherals" that can be a PITA on orbit. For example a key life ending problem for Iridium was the batteries. GEO comm sats run in near constant sunlight but LEO "night" is 45 mins long, but it's every 45 mins.

This seriously hammered the batteries. Fortunately SX know some people who know a lot about batteries.

The other issue is likely to be any bespoke, tricky deployment mechanisms. Any mechanical devices are going to have to be deployed (by space payload standards) in vast numbers. Like the batteries ground testing (especially combined thermal vacuum testing) can pick up a lot of issues but they won't duplicate the launch transients. Something that's rock solid in hard vacuum and cycling across 400c might just be shaken to bits by a launch.

 I know that sounds impossible (all those "lessons learned" manuals, high fidelity FEA etc) but spaceflight can still generate regular cries of "How did we miss that ?"  :(

[EDIT Who would have thought it possible to install the g switch, triggering the parachutes on a landing capsule, upside down?  :(  Can't happen, won't happen, did happen.  ]
« Last Edit: 09/12/2017 07:45 AM by john smith 19 »
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Offline vaporcobra

That is highly speculative, even though the evidence we have is pretty solid. We'll see as the manifest solidifies, although I suppose SpaceX wouldn't necessarily even have to publicly acknowledge that it was its satellites as copassengers. FCC documents will be all the evidence we need, though!

In the sense that SpaceX is ahead of competitors, we really don't know much about that. If SpaceX does in fact launch it's first test satellites this year and they are relatively close to the finished product, they'll theoretically be ahead of OneWeb, their only near term competitors.

I expect at least some minor details about it in Adelaide. Crazy that the IAC is just over two weeks away  ;)
For all we know SX could have already launched one. We know they launch secondary payloads on a regular basis and like to iterate quickly.

That said I'd presume that if it did start transmissions they'd have to notify someone it was on orbit. Not an actual unit, just some of the key modules they really needed to know about.

It's wildly improbable. Any experimental test of a LEO commsat launched from the US will have lots of public FCC documentation, and NSF/Reddit/FB all have some very dedicated FCC filings sleuths, not to mention media outlets like SpaceNews and PBDES :)
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Offline ZachF

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Seems SpaceX are planning to launch their test satellites this year. Would this not put them ahead of the competition?

That is highly speculative, even though the evidence we have is pretty solid. We'll see as the manifest solidifies, although I suppose SpaceX wouldn't necessarily even have to publicly acknowledge that it was its satellites as copassengers. FCC documents will be all the evidence we need, though!

In the sense that SpaceX is ahead of competitors, we really don't know much about that. If SpaceX does in fact launch it's first test satellites this year and they are relatively close to the finished product, they'll theoretically be ahead of OneWeb, their only near term competitors.

I expect at least some minor details about it in Adelaide. Crazy that the IAC is just over two weeks away  ;)

I don't think we'll hear much info about the Constellation until it's pretty much ready to go. They seem to have gone radio silent on it, probably to not spook their launch customers.

Offline AncientU

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Highly competitive environment, so blabbing only helps the competition.

Plenty has been filed with the FCC if customers want to spook themselves.
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Online gongora

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One thing I'm confused about is the recent mention of "first to launch" being a factor.  For ITU purposes, first to launch seems to be completely irrelevant, their system is first to file.  I don't know if there is any FCC rule about it.  Even if there was an FCC rule like that, the fact remains that the two SpaceX test sats are not part of the constellation.  They are not going to be in any of the orbital planes for the constellation.
« Last Edit: 09/12/2017 06:47 PM by gongora »

Online guckyfan

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One thing I'm confused about is the recent mention of "first to launch" being a factor.  For ITU purposes, first to launch seems to be completely irrelevant, their system is first to file.  I don't know if there is any FCC rule about it.  Even if there was an FCC rule like that, the fact remains that the two SpaceX test sats are not part of the constellation.  They are not going to be in any of the orbital planes for the constellation.

If the inclination and orbit are an issue they could and probably would use a dedicated launch. From Vandenberg into the polar orbit to minimize effect on their commercial operations. What's the cost of one launch in the context of a $10-15 billion sat constellation project?

Online gongora

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One thing I'm confused about is the recent mention of "first to launch" being a factor.  For ITU purposes, first to launch seems to be completely irrelevant, their system is first to file.  I don't know if there is any FCC rule about it.  Even if there was an FCC rule like that, the fact remains that the two SpaceX test sats are not part of the constellation.  They are not going to be in any of the orbital planes for the constellation.

If the inclination and orbit are an issue they could and probably would use a dedicated launch. From Vandenberg into the polar orbit to minimize effect on their commercial operations. What's the cost of one launch in the context of a $10-15 billion sat constellation project?

When you're months behind on your manifest and it would push back customer flights?  Wouldn't go over well.  Plus, they applied for a permit for polar orbit on the test sats.  They've updated the filings several times and have never changed the orbit.
« Last Edit: 09/12/2017 10:33 PM by gongora »

Offline Ludus

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Teslarati take on issues SpaceX has with the FCC decision.

http://www.teslarati.com/spacexs-plan-launch-internet-satellites-face-possible-setback-recent-fcc-decision/

It me! Comments and critiques welcome. I plan on doing another piece on the findings in my comment edit above, it's just hard making this stuff approachable for a more general audience.

Kinda cool that some of the best comments I found googling around on the topic came from somebody posting on this thread.

Offline vaporcobra

Teslarati take on issues SpaceX has with the FCC decision.

http://www.teslarati.com/spacexs-plan-launch-internet-satellites-face-possible-setback-recent-fcc-decision/

It me! Comments and critiques welcome. I plan on doing another piece on the findings in my comment edit above, it's just hard making this stuff approachable for a more general audience.

Kinda cool that some of the best comments I found googling around on the topic came from somebody posting on this thread.


Agreed! I take zero credit, NASASpaceflight is the absolute best community for educated spaceflight enthusiasts and industry insiders, bar none. The mods are unrivaled in quality and levelheadedness, and L2 is just the foot-thick layer of icing on the spaceflight cake.
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Online guckyfan

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When you're months behind on your manifest and it would push back customer flights?  Wouldn't go over well. 

That's why I suggested not congested Vandenberg and a polar orbit. On a reused booster the schedule impact would be minimal.

Plus, they applied for a permit for polar orbit on the test sats.  They've updated the filings several times and have never changed the orbit.

Which indicates to me that the orbit at this point is not important for the permit process.

Edit: Fixed quote
« Last Edit: 09/13/2017 05:43 AM by guckyfan »

Offline john smith 19

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One thing I'm confused about is the recent mention of "first to launch" being a factor.  For ITU purposes, first to launch seems to be completely irrelevant, their system is first to file.  I don't know if there is any FCC rule about it.  Even if there was an FCC rule like that, the fact remains that the two SpaceX test sats are not part of the constellation.  They are not going to be in any of the orbital planes for the constellation.
Well it is a competition.  :)

In principle the first to launch --> first to deploy --> first to start generating revenue.

Provided of course their sat and infrastructure designs really are ready for full scale roll out it's full speed ahead as they proceed to eat everyone else's lunch.

Time will tell how accurate a description of events this plan actually is.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline MP99

That is highly speculative, even though the evidence we have is pretty solid. We'll see as the manifest solidifies, although I suppose SpaceX wouldn't necessarily even have to publicly acknowledge that it was its satellites as copassengers. FCC documents will be all the evidence we need, though!

In the sense that SpaceX is ahead of competitors, we really don't know much about that. If SpaceX does in fact launch it's first test satellites this year and they are relatively close to the finished product, they'll theoretically be ahead of OneWeb, their only near term competitors.

I expect at least some minor details about it in Adelaide. Crazy that the IAC is just over two weeks away  ;)
For all we know SX could have already launched one. We know they launch secondary payloads on a regular basis and like to iterate quickly.

That said I'd presume that if it did start transmissions they'd have to notify someone it was on orbit. Not an actual unit, just some of the key modules they really needed to know about.

It's wildly improbable. Any experimental test of a LEO commsat launched from the US will have lots of public FCC documentation, and NSF/Reddit/FB all have some very dedicated FCC filings sleuths, not to mention media outlets like SpaceNews and PBDES :)
Agreed.

But, could SpaceX put components on the upper stage which were only activated for test after payload separation?

IE similar to the way that ULA perform cryogenic prop tests.

Cheers, Martin

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Online gongora

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Quote
It's wildly improbable. Any experimental test of a LEO commsat launched from the US will have lots of public FCC documentation, and NSF/Reddit/FB all have some very dedicated FCC filings sleuths, not to mention media outlets like SpaceNews and PBDES :)
Agreed.

But, could SpaceX put components on the upper stage which were only activated for test after payload separation?

IE similar to the way that ULA perform cryogenic prop tests.

They can't do that without getting an FCC permit for the transmissions.  Period.
« Last Edit: 09/14/2017 05:28 PM by gongora »

Online gongora

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Discussion on setting up production facility moved to SpaceX - now a satellite vendor?

Offline IainMcClatchie

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Once SpaceX or OneWeb have parts of their constellation up, will they be able to insist that the ground stations of other vendors not yet launched not point beams with ten degrees of their satellites?

It seems like, once you have a thousand satellites or so, you could basically lay claim to the entire sky.  If true, that means this first constellation launch is a land grab of absolutely epic proportions.

Offline rakaydos

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Once SpaceX or OneWeb have parts of their constellation up, will they be able to insist that the ground stations of other vendors not yet launched not point beams with ten degrees of their satellites?

It seems like, once you have a thousand satellites or so, you could basically lay claim to the entire sky.  If true, that means this first constellation launch is a land grab of absolutely epic proportions.

well, it's not like these satelites are close together by arc... The reason the consteletion is so huge is to guarentee that there will be at least 1 visible in the sky at all times, which implies something like 60-90 degrees of visual separation between sats, as seen from earth's surface.

Offline AncientU

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Once SpaceX or OneWeb have parts of their constellation up, will they be able to insist that the ground stations of other vendors not yet launched not point beams with ten degrees of their satellites?

It seems like, once you have a thousand satellites or so, you could basically lay claim to the entire sky.  If true, that means this first constellation launch is a land grab of absolutely epic proportions.

well, it's not like these satelites are close together by arc... The reason the consteletion is so huge is to guarentee that there will be at least 1 visible in the sky at all times, which implies something like 60-90 degrees of visual separation between sats, as seen from earth's surface.

4,425 satellite constellation spread evenly over a 40,000 square degree sky would put one satellite in every 10 square degrees of the sky.  That's 3.16degree x 3.16degree square... a few degrees separating individual sats.  So when deployed, there would be hundreds of visible satellites in the sky at all times.  And three times that density when all 12,000 are deployed.
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Offline gosnold

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Once SpaceX or OneWeb have parts of their constellation up, will they be able to insist that the ground stations of other vendors not yet launched not point beams with ten degrees of their satellites?

It seems like, once you have a thousand satellites or so, you could basically lay claim to the entire sky.  If true, that means this first constellation launch is a land grab of absolutely epic proportions.

well, it's not like these satelites are close together by arc... The reason the consteletion is so huge is to guarentee that there will be at least 1 visible in the sky at all times, which implies something like 60-90 degrees of visual separation between sats, as seen from earth's surface.

4,425 satellite constellation spread evenly over a 40,000 square degree sky would put one satellite in every 10 square degrees of the sky.  That's 3.16degree x 3.16degree square... a few degrees separating individual sats.  So when deployed, there would be hundreds of visible satellites in the sky at all times.  And three times that density when all 12,000 are deployed.

That's when seen from the center of the Earth, when seen from the surface there is much more spacing between the satellites.

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

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Once SpaceX or OneWeb have parts of their constellation up, will they be able to insist that the ground stations of other vendors not yet launched not point beams with ten degrees of their satellites?

It seems like, once you have a thousand satellites or so, you could basically lay claim to the entire sky.  If true, that means this first constellation launch is a land grab of absolutely epic proportions.

well, it's not like these satelites are close together by arc... The reason the consteletion is so huge is to guarentee that there will be at least 1 visible in the sky at all times, which implies something like 60-90 degrees of visual separation between sats, as seen from earth's surface.

4,425 satellite constellation spread evenly over a 40,000 square degree sky would put one satellite in every 10 square degrees of the sky.  That's 3.16degree x 3.16degree square... a few degrees separating individual sats.  So when deployed, there would be hundreds of visible satellites in the sky at all times.  And three times that density when all 12,000 are deployed.

That's when seen from the center of the Earth, when seen from the surface there is much more spacing between the satellites.
The effect you state only doubles at best the beam width required. This is because the lowest in the constellation is 1200km from earth surface. Also there are other considerations, because the surface is not the center of a sphere when looking at sats to the sides and not straight up the separation becomes much less. Also there is another item and this is the fact that the planes converge over high latitudes making the separation in one dimension of the two, plane to plane dimension to be very small.

Now some additional data.

A KU band phased array which has a diameter of just 20cm has a main lobe width of 5 degrees. But a KA band PA of same diameter could have a main lobe width of 1/3 of KU or ~1.6 degrees. A double size array of .5m would have ~.7 degree at KA band and ~2.1 degrees at KU. So the problem is solved by requiring by FCC licensing for ground terminals to have a certain beam width, probably less than 1 degree. This is where the share the freq and sky policies apply. So whatever the FCC requires for ground terminals in the US the ones used in the rest of the world will be equal or better.

Back to antennas. There are side lobes and this is where the majority of the concern over interference comes from. So to reduce these lobes RF signal strength the methodology is to make the main lobe beam width smaller. As the beam width is decreased the ratio of signal strength in the main lobe to side lobes increases enabling good signal strength for the intentional receiver and very low signal strength as interference to the unintentional receiver.

Offline vaporcobra

SpaceX trademark filings to name their constellation STARLINK were updated with new information on 21 August 2017. Of particularly note is the mention of "satellites for scientific and commercial purposes" and "satellite photography services", possibly suggesting that SpaceX is considering a multipurpose LEO constellation. https://www.trademarkia.com/company-space-exploration-technologies-corp-1140826-page-1-2

Can also be found through the US Patent Office's Trademark Electronic Search System, but wow is that thing outdated...

Full disclosure: /u/Ronsmytheii's post on this disappeared, I was already planning on mentioning this new info.
« Last Edit: 09/18/2017 10:29 PM by vaporcobra »
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