Author Topic: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer (Starlink)  (Read 618934 times)

Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1700 on: 12/08/2017 10:41 PM »
Another strategy implied in the discussion is to ride DoD sensor(s) on commercial satellites. Imagine having several hundred infrared sensing modules installed on SpaceX's Starlink constellation -- say 10% carry the sensor.  Then the targeting problem became immensely more difficult for the a-sat wielding opponent.  4,425 targets, only 400 of which are watching you...  Vastly (3 orders of magnitude) more resilient that a few SBIRS... and probable vastly cheaper, too.
« Last Edit: 12/08/2017 10:48 PM by AncientU »
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1701 on: 12/08/2017 11:15 PM »
Another strategy implied in the discussion is to ride DoD sensor(s) on commercial satellites. Imagine having several hundred infrared sensing modules installed on SpaceX's Starlink constellation -- say 10% carry the sensor.  Then the targeting problem became immensely more difficult for the a-sat wielding opponent.  4,425 targets, only 400 of which are watching you...  Vastly (3 orders of magnitude) more resilient that a few SBIRS... and probable vastly cheaper, too.
The cost?

Lease of the host payload space and lease for the data connection to the sensor. These leases could be <$1M/year. Making the total cost of having a sensor on the sat to be <$7M per sensor (7 years of operation).

40 sensors would be a host payload lease cost of $40M per year. The only other costs is the cost of manufacturing the sensor.

10 different sensors and 40 sensors per type of sensors is a total yearly cost to DOD for a total of 400 sensors of $400M/yr.

If commercial also lease host payload space at even if the complete lease price is as low as $500K/year, 4400 sats with host payloads is a potential of $2.2B/year in income for lease space on sats. The lease includes the comm to the payload such that only a VPN is needed to communicate with the sensor. No special comm systems, no special command and control facilities. Total costs go way down for sensor data providers/operators.

In this first generation sat I do not think there will be a space for host payloads. But the next generation sats probably will have a significant weight and space for a hosted payload (8000cm^3 [size of a 8U cubesat] and 50kg).

Offline speedevil

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1702 on: 12/09/2017 01:41 AM »
It wasn't so very long ago (2003) that DOD's DMSP sats were only 830kg. In fact that one (F16) is still in Orbit and operational. It's the packing on all the added multiple sensor packages that have grown the individual weight of the DOD weather sats.

As with much military stuff, quantity has a quality all of its own.

Weather observations from half the distance, with several satellites staring constantly, rather than once a day or twice a day 'good' observations as with DMSP.
Even with a kilogram only payload on all satellites, you can do really useful global coverage.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1703 on: 12/09/2017 07:46 AM »
It wasn't so very long ago (2003) that DOD's DMSP sats were only 830kg. In fact that one (F16) is still in Orbit and operational. It's the packing on all the added multiple sensor packages that have grown the individual weight of the DOD weather sats.

As with much military stuff, quantity has a quality all of its own.

Weather observations from half the distance, with several satellites staring constantly, rather than once a day or twice a day 'good' observations as with DMSP.
Even with a kilogram only payload on all satellites, you can do really useful global coverage.
True, but before people get too excited about this idea keep in mind that makes Starlink sats a piece of (partially) military equipment. 
IOW (from some PoVs) a legitimate military target.  :(

If shooting starts that puts them in the firing line. 

It's doubtful if an agressor with Asat capability will be nuanced enough to only attack those carrying DoD sensors.  :(

Just something to think about.

I agree, on paper it looks like a win/win for Starlink and the DoD. Better coverage, higher resolution, lower operating costs, faster upgrades (for DoD), faster route into profitability for Starlink.  All good.
But if things escalate with any of a number of countries the US has less than friendly relations with....
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Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1704 on: 12/09/2017 11:32 AM »
The DoD will probably buy most of its communications from a constellation provider like SpaceX, even if it doesn't place a single NSS asset on any satellite.  Hosting just relieves budget pressure and ups resilience.

The point you are missing is that a-sat targeting of 4,425 satellites (then 12,000 satellites) distributed over the globe is nearly impossible.  And attempting it would be a months long (?) campaign which 'might' elicit a response that would end the campaign.  Any satellite is vulnerable... the constellation, not.  This is a deterrent to starting at all.

Note: a crazy person could accomplish this goal by starting down the road and creating a full Kessler cascade which would be the end of the constellation (and all other space travel for a few thousand years).
« Last Edit: 12/09/2017 12:41 PM by AncientU »
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Offline speedevil

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1705 on: 12/09/2017 12:11 PM »
As with much military stuff, quantity has a quality all of its own.
Weather observations from half the distance, with several satellites staring constantly, rather than once a day or twice a day 'good' observations as with DMSP.

Even with a kilogram only payload on all satellites, you can do really useful global coverage.
True, but before people get too excited about this idea keep in mind that makes Starlink sats a piece of (partially) military equipment. 
IOW (from some PoVs) a legitimate military target.  :(

If shooting starts that puts them in the firing line. 

Of course, the above would make them very interesting for NOAA too.
https://www.goes-r.gov/spacesegment/abi.html is the imager on the current GEOS satellites.

The fact that starlink is so much closer, and has so much more bandwidth makes even trivial imagers interesting.
It has a 0.5km visual resolution in the red band, which can be trivially exceeded by bad cellphone class imagers during the day.

This of course only works for near-visible wavelengths, for the narrow deep-IR bandwidths, the situation is considerably harder.

At worse, commercial-class imagers in the near-IR and far IR with wide bands and high spacial resolution would be a very useful compliment to GEOS, and could be fitted in a 'negligible' package (a kilo). (if they are adequately radiation hard to be useful for a year, continual launches refresh these usefully).

There may also be secondary outputs of the primary mission - for example GPS has been used as an atmospheric probe by looking at reflections of the signal.

Especially over oceans, it's at least plausible that the communications equipment could be used to measure surface roughness and wave motion at very high resolution using active RADAR techniques. If this can be done between satellites especially it would be an extraordinarily powerful technique.
'passive' techniques using the ordinary emitted signal may also be possible to derive various interesting things about terrain from snow to vegetation cover.
« Last Edit: 12/09/2017 04:16 PM by speedevil »

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1706 on: 12/09/2017 04:31 PM »
My point that I got to through the back door is that hosted payloads on these sats could be a significant income.

The concept is hosted cubesats. These are non free-flyer cubesats provided with power, cooling and communications. They would always point toward Earth in a stable attitude. There is also the possibility for the same feature that point out to space. The container on the comm sat would be like a 12U container able to support 4- 3U, 2- 6U or 1 - 12U sized sensor/experiment. At a lease price for a 3U space at $25K/year for operating a sensor/prototype/experiment becomes affordable by a large base of possible customers. The command and control center for the sensor would be a data server that has a large multi TByte storage (at 1Gb/s data download that could be up to as much as 8TBytes per day of data). The data download capability is phenomenal at a 24/7 continuous feed. It would be hard to visualize a sensor that would use anything but a fraction of the comm connection capability.

The Interface would be a spec specifying the power, Gb Ethernet, and cooling. There would also be specs on weight, size, placement of connectors and mounting hardware and RFI levels that the device must meet to be able to ride.

You would build and test the device then deliver it to the sat manufacturing facility where for a fee the device is tested to see if it meets the specifications and then installed on a sat. If there is a specific request for a inclination then the fee could be more since the sat it is installed on must be tracked and handled to get it to the right launch que to go to the requested orbit. The fee would be somewhat negotiated value based on the materials/systems that are in the cubesat and the risks that those pose to the sat/launch. There would be a minimal fee for cubesats that present very low risk that covers the initial device's testing and installation.

These cubesats would be much more capable than a free-flyer cubesat as well as last longer on-orbit up to 7 years. Plus they are disposed of by the sat they are on when it initiates a disposal maneuver to hasten the sat's reentry. But the costs of getting it into space and then operating it would be the same or even less than the current costs.

The second generation sats are likely to be deployed by the BFR meaning the total cost of deployment (cost of sat + cost of Launch) could be easily $750K/sat. 7 years of rental of 4 3U spaces at $25K/yr is $700K. If therer are 2 co 12U hosted containers one pointing toward Earth the other toward space then it is possible that just the rental of the hosted payload spaces could pay fore the deployment of the sat plus a significant profit $1400K-750K=$650K over the 7 years of operation.

It is not likely that all 12000 sats would have all to spaces in their hosted payload containers filled but a significant number would be a significant income stream. If 10% of the spaces are filled in a 12000 sat constellation that is a $240M/yr income from leased hosted payload spaces. A BTW that would be a total of 9,600 3U cubesats.

This could transform the cubesats from free-flyers to mostly hasted payloads on comm sat constellations. It gives cubesat builders many orbits to choose from with multiple comm constellations. If a single interface standard is implemented by all hosts then competition for the hosted payloads would probably drop the lease prices to that affordable by even High School projects. With as many as 22,000 3U spaces available on sats launched every year the prices could be very low and the numbers and information being generated by sensors/prototypes/experiments/ could be overwhelming.

A 12U container is .2mX.2mX.3M in size. It would host payloads of no more than a max weight of 50kg. Most 3U hosted payloads would be about 5kg. An advantage to the hosted payload builder is that the device operates in space identically as it would sitting on the bench except it is in zero G.

Offline gongora

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1707 on: 12/09/2017 04:44 PM »
While hosted payloads could be a future source of income, you may want to recall Iridium specifically designed their sats to host other payloads and then had a lot of trouble selling the space, they ended up basically setting up a subsidiary to own a bunch of them.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1708 on: 12/09/2017 04:56 PM »
While hosted payloads could be a future source of income, you may want to recall Iridium specifically designed their sats to host other payloads and then had a lot of trouble selling the space, they ended up basically setting up a subsidiary to own a bunch of them.
The question is what was the lease price for the hosted payload? It is all about the lease price. It has to be cheap or you will have almost entirely empty spaces. The prices must be less than the costs of current average launch costs for cubesats. If you cannot offer these builders a cheaper alternative then you will not sell/rent spaces.

Added:
Iridium allocated 210kg for hosted payloads 1/3 of the total sat weight. This is almost as much as the Starlink proposed 1st generation sat of 380kg. Trying to sell such large space is not likely to find a lot of customers. That is because the number of customers out there are geometrically inverse related to size as is the totals of numbers and weight of all the possible hosted payloads based on their size is inversely related. So if you go after the small hosted payloads you will likely get a higher fill rate than if you go after larger ones and so probably even make more income.

In the possible near term <10 years market offering large hosted payload space is not likely to result in good results.

NOTE: Started a companion discussion about the market for hosted payloads by Starlink on the companion thread. http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=44288.msg1757438#msg1757438
« Last Edit: 12/09/2017 06:57 PM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Offline john smith 19

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1709 on: 12/09/2017 07:09 PM »
There may also be secondary outputs of the primary mission - for example GPS has been used as an atmospheric probe by looking at reflections of the signal.

Especially over oceans, it's at least plausible that the communications equipment could be used to measure surface roughness and wave motion at very high resolution using active RADAR techniques. If this can be done between satellites especially it would be an extraordinarily powerful technique.
'passive' techniques using the ordinary emitted signal may also be possible to derive various interesting things about terrain from snow to vegetation cover.
IIRC GPS has been used for passive sea state monitoring as well.

I think there are quite  a number of Earth observation tasks that could be handled surprisingly well by quite small packages provided you have the density of a high density constellation. 
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Offline DistantTemple

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1710 on: 12/09/2017 10:45 PM »
There may also be secondary outputs of the primary mission - for example GPS has been used as an atmospheric probe by looking at reflections of the signal.

Especially over oceans, it's at least plausible that the communications equipment could be used to measure surface roughness and wave motion at very high resolution using active RADAR techniques. If this can be done between satellites especially it would be an extraordinarily powerful technique.
'passive' techniques using the ordinary emitted signal may also be possible to derive various interesting things about terrain from snow to vegetation cover.
IIRC GPS has been used for passive sea state monitoring as well.

I think there are quite  a number of Earth observation tasks that could be handled surprisingly well by quite small packages provided you have the density of a high density constellation.
I expect this has been said somewhere: Elon is passionately driving a new attitude to science and technology, and their development to save us from global warming, and make us multi-planetary, but  the current US administration is trying to cover up science, and restrict circulation of certain results. I suggest SpaceX might gather, and provide high quality data, particularly related to global warming, like ice cover, sea temperature, wave heights, and glacier speed, free and open source, and very likely introduce a philanthropic drive to give more students access to space... after all it may help generate employees, like the Hyperloop competitions!
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Offline Jcc

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1711 on: 12/09/2017 11:34 PM »
There may also be secondary outputs of the primary mission - for example GPS has been used as an atmospheric probe by looking at reflections of the signal.

Especially over oceans, it's at least plausible that the communications equipment could be used to measure surface roughness and wave motion at very high resolution using active RADAR techniques. If this can be done between satellites especially it would be an extraordinarily powerful technique.
'passive' techniques using the ordinary emitted signal may also be possible to derive various interesting things about terrain from snow to vegetation cover.
IIRC GPS has been used for passive sea state monitoring as well.

I think there are quite  a number of Earth observation tasks that could be handled surprisingly well by quite small packages provided you have the density of a high density constellation.
I expect this has been said somewhere: Elon is passionately driving a new attitude to science and technology, and their development to save us from global warming, and make us multi-planetary, but  the current US administration is trying to cover up science, and restrict circulation of certain results. I suggest SpaceX might gather, and provide high quality data, particularly related to global warming, like ice cover, sea temperature, wave heights, and glacier speed, free and open source, and very likely introduce a philanthropic drive to give more students access to space... after all it may help generate employees, like the Hyperloop competitions!

I don't think this has been said and may be OT, but I like the idea. However, most of the data types mentioned require specialized payloads that are relatively costly. Some can be done with just imagery, and they will want to sell that service, but can give it to academics and others who are studying climate change.

Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1712 on: 12/09/2017 11:40 PM »
There may also be secondary outputs of the primary mission - for example GPS has been used as an atmospheric probe by looking at reflections of the signal.

Especially over oceans, it's at least plausible that the communications equipment could be used to measure surface roughness and wave motion at very high resolution using active RADAR techniques. If this can be done between satellites especially it would be an extraordinarily powerful technique.
'passive' techniques using the ordinary emitted signal may also be possible to derive various interesting things about terrain from snow to vegetation cover.
IIRC GPS has been used for passive sea state monitoring as well.

I think there are quite  a number of Earth observation tasks that could be handled surprisingly well by quite small packages provided you have the density of a high density constellation.
I expect this has been said somewhere: Elon is passionately driving a new attitude to science and technology, and their development to save us from global warming, and make us multi-planetary, but  the current US administration is trying to cover up science, and restrict circulation of certain results. I suggest SpaceX might gather, and provide high quality data, particularly related to global warming, like ice cover, sea temperature, wave heights, and glacier speed, free and open source, and very likely introduce a philanthropic drive to give more students access to space... after all it may help generate employees, like the Hyperloop competitions!

The Nominated NASA Administrator is quite focused on getting 'weather' data from any and all commercial sources.  Thinks this the only way to significantly improve weather science without budget increases (which are not happening for sure).  Hopefully he'll be approved in the near future.
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1713 on: 12/22/2017 06:30 PM »
There may also be secondary outputs of the primary mission - for example GPS has been used as an atmospheric probe by looking at reflections of the signal.

Especially over oceans, it's at least plausible that the communications equipment could be used to measure surface roughness and wave motion at very high resolution using active RADAR techniques. If this can be done between satellites especially it would be an extraordinarily powerful technique.
'passive' techniques using the ordinary emitted signal may also be possible to derive various interesting things about terrain from snow to vegetation cover.
IIRC GPS has been used for passive sea state monitoring as well.

I think there are quite  a number of Earth observation tasks that could be handled surprisingly well by quite small packages provided you have the density of a high density constellation.
I expect this has been said somewhere: Elon is passionately driving a new attitude to science and technology, and their development to save us from global warming, and make us multi-planetary, but  the current US administration is trying to cover up science, and restrict circulation of certain results. I suggest SpaceX might gather, and provide high quality data, particularly related to global warming, like ice cover, sea temperature, wave heights, and glacier speed, free and open source, and very likely introduce a philanthropic drive to give more students access to space... after all it may help generate employees, like the Hyperloop competitions!

I don't think this has been said and may be OT, but I like the idea. However, most of the data types mentioned require specialized payloads that are relatively costly. Some can be done with just imagery, and they will want to sell that service, but can give it to academics and others who are studying climate change.
Academic payloads are most likely a 3U cubesat sized item. They do not usually have the funds to do anything much larger. That is why the hosted payload space should be just simply a configurable cubesat permanent docking space. The primary advantage to academics is their cubsat/instrument only needs to concentrate on the instrument. Attitude control, power, cooling, and communications are primarily provided by the host sat.

Offline Asteroza

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1714 on: 12/25/2017 04:32 AM »
For hosted payloads. how much wiggling is allowed? If say someone wanted to build up a civilian global remote sensing platform with on-demand targeting, that would usually require a retargetable sensor platform with slewing, so effectively a moving telescope mount/gimbal. If you just wanted to offer SAR, there's the issue of deploying a boom for a SAR secondary antenna.

I wonder in the case of a telescope, SpaceX might offer a hosted sensor maker the opportunity to reuse the optics train and mount for the inter-satellite lasercomm terminals? Would make SpaceX's life easier in terms of managing attitude control, as the sensor maker can provide cues to the satellite GNC when it wants to move its own telescope. Though this starts getting into the very real issues of how much space internally as well as externally would be allocated for hosted payloads. Gotta clear that payload fairing and deployer...

Offline speedevil

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1715 on: 12/25/2017 10:58 AM »
For hosted payloads. how much wiggling is allowed? If say someone wanted to build up a civilian global remote sensing platform

'hosted' seems to have the possibility to vary quite a lot.

A) 1U-6U or whatever cubesats, with no pointing.
B) Same on gimbal, slew at a price.
C) Cut-down Starlink sat, maybe with no pointing, and degraded network.
D) Starlink-LASER comms only to co-orbiting telescope
E) LASER comms from the starlink constellation out to about Mars at kilobyte rates, moon at megabit.

Varying from 'traditional' hosting, through being functionally reduced 'extras' in the constellation launching at the same time, to just being in the constellation, to being a pure ISP.

If you can fit in a starlink sized box, and work in a starlink orbit, and have essentially free high bandwidth comms, that could lower the bar to entry quite a lot.

Fully detached co-constellation ride-along payloads will of course cost a lot more. But a whole lot less than a 'regular' launch, with operations budgets crashing as you don't need your own expensive downlink.

With reasonable assumptions on what the optical dishes can do on the regular starlink sats, I get numbers of many megabits/s to nearby orbits such as L1, entirely removing the need for other downlinks for many satellites, so no FCC/... approvals needed.

You wouldn't want to do a fully detached constellation for 4000 sats, but even 'just' ten would give an enormous capability for ground observation.

Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1716 on: 12/25/2017 02:20 PM »
As concrete examples, the Iridium Boss described two hosted payloads on Iridium NEXT... the system that tracks all aircraft the world over via their transponders, and a second that tracks all sea-going vessels.  It is easy to imagine the DoD, for instance being interested in sensor sets that do the same but from passive signatures for non-commercial aircraft and ships.  Imaging in various bands could provide this for land and sea activities.  Commercially viable imaging could also be real-time traffic reports, natural disaster (fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, snowstorms) evaluation...the list is endless.

Think... apps on the internet or your iPhone.
« Last Edit: 12/25/2017 02:21 PM by AncientU »
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Online docmordrid

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1717 on: 12/25/2017 06:42 PM »
As concrete examples, the Iridium Boss described two hosted payloads on Iridium NEXT... the system that tracks all aircraft the world over via their transponders, and a second that tracks all sea-going vessels.  It is easy to imagine the DoD, for instance being interested in sensor sets that do the same but from passive signatures for non-commercial aircraft and ships.  Imaging in various bands could provide this for land and sea activities.  Commercially viable imaging could also be real-time traffic reports, natural disaster (fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, snowstorms) evaluation...the list is endless.

Think... apps on the internet or your iPhone.

This is why those trademark filings have such a long list of potential uses, and you can bet some entrepreneur's going to come up with about a dozen more. At least.
« Last Edit: 12/25/2017 06:44 PM by docmordrid »
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Offline Asteroza

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1718 on: 12/25/2017 10:44 PM »
As concrete examples, the Iridium Boss described two hosted payloads on Iridium NEXT... the system that tracks all aircraft the world over via their transponders, and a second that tracks all sea-going vessels.  It is easy to imagine the DoD, for instance being interested in sensor sets that do the same but from passive signatures for non-commercial aircraft and ships.  Imaging in various bands could provide this for land and sea activities.  Commercially viable imaging could also be real-time traffic reports, natural disaster (fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, snowstorms) evaluation...the list is endless.

Think... apps on the internet or your iPhone.

That would be passive ADS-B receivers for aircraft ADS-B transmitters, which are the general followon to traditional transponders as national airspace management wants to move away from high power radar systems for tracking uncooperative aircraft to an airspace filled with self-identifying aircraft (above ultralight class at least, with UAV's above a certain weight also being considered for mandatory use). For maritime traffic, IMO demands ships over a certain tonnage carry AIS transmitters and increasingly most mariners now equip AIS receivers as well (fancy VHF radios with displays now let you select an AIS vessel to arrange channels for communicating). With the advent of cheap SDR radios, everybody and their mother can now receive ADS-B and AIS, so having a few sats with an SDR receiver would provide usable global coverage.

But that assumes cooperative targets for remote sensing, so if their ADS-B or AIS transmitter goes down, you're back to conventional electro-optical or SAR radar solutions to find stuff.

Offline su27k

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite manufacturer
« Reply #1719 on: 12/26/2017 03:55 AM »
I don't think commercial hosted payload fits SpaceX's MO, if you haven't noticed they don't launch secondary payload anymore even though some of the launches have huge performance margins. I think it would be the same with Starlink, they'll sell the satellite bus and launches, maybe someone like Spaceflight Industry will provide hosted payload service on top of that, but Starlink itself would be SpaceX only.

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