Author Topic: Boeing Smallsat Constellation  (Read 15784 times)

Offline Danderman

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Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« on: 06/24/2016 04:55 PM »
The LA Times reports today that Boeing plans to operate a 2,000 satellite constellation in competition with OneWeb and SpaceX. The satellites will operate in V Band.

I am beginning to think that the smallsat industry is jumping the shark.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #1 on: 06/24/2016 05:02 PM »
How is it jumping the shark?

LEO constellations are an intrinsically superior idea. Challenging to make the economics work, but if you CAN make it work, it'll eventually make many GSO birds obsolete.

It's in Boeing's best interests as a major GSO satellite maker to pursue this option. They can't count on SpaceX and OneWeb (and others) all failing.
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Offline jongoff

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Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #2 on: 06/24/2016 08:31 PM »
How is it jumping the shark?

LEO constellations are an intrinsically superior idea. Challenging to make the economics work, but if you CAN make it work, it'll eventually make many GSO birds obsolete.

It's in Boeing's best interests as a major GSO satellite maker to pursue this option. They can't count on SpaceX and OneWeb (and others) all failing.

It'll be interesting to see how this all shakes out. By my count, between the announced potential big LEO constellations (OneWeb, Boeing, SpaceX, and Samsung), you have up to ~13,500 proposed new spacecraft. Odds are several will be canceled before flight (if not all of them), but if they all flew, that would be an order of magnitude more operational spacecraft on orbit than there currently are.

It'll be interesting to see how this shakes out. Was this a FUD play from Boeing (to scare off OneWeb and SpaceX investors)? Or a serious play. Can they all work out their frequency use needs? What does this mean for the space debris situation? Will this close the case for Astroscale and other companies trying to get into the space debris cleanup market? Will Brexit and other geopolitical headwinds pull the rug out from under these ambitions just like the Tech Bubble popping killed the 90s megaconstellations? How will most of these launch? Will it be a situation where the demand outstrips supply? Etc, etc.

Glad to see another company jumping into the market though. It definitely increases the odds of at least one or two successes.

~Jon

Offline catdlr

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Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #3 on: 06/24/2016 09:33 PM »
Boeing applies for license to launch proposed satellite constellation

thread source:  http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-boeing-satellites-20160623-snap-story.html
Tony De La Rosa

Offline Davidthefat

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Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #4 on: 06/24/2016 09:36 PM »
Boeing already has satellites, and a much longer legacy in the business than OneWeb or SpaceX. It's not like they are a startup trying to get into the business. I don't see that as jumping the shark at all. I see it as getting with the times.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #5 on: 06/24/2016 09:55 PM »
Blue/Boeing XS1 LV would be ideal for maintaining the constellation, they would need something larger for bulk deployment eg Vulcan with ACES or Blue's RLV.


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Offline jongoff

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Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #6 on: 06/24/2016 10:35 PM »
Blue/Boeing XS1 LV would be ideal for maintaining the constellation, they would need something larger for bulk deployment eg Vulcan with ACES or Blue's RLV.

Yeah, my guess is they'll use bigger, EELV class vehicles to launch (if they launch), with smaller vehicles for replenishment. I don't think that Boeing's XS-1 collaboration with Blue necessarily means they see that as an exclusive relationship that can never change. I could see them wanting to not launch on SpaceX, since SpaceX is directly competing with them in this market, but they'll probably shop around and find the best launch deal they can.

~Jon

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #7 on: 06/25/2016 12:53 AM »
I suspect Boeing will be partnering with somebody on this constellation.  They can build, launch and maintain it but still a means to market and sell capacity, this is where a partner like one existing satellite operators (eg SES) or telecommunications companies would be useful.

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Offline docmordrid

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Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #8 on: 06/25/2016 01:45 AM »
SES is already teamed with O3b, which they  offered to buy outright last month for $710m.
DM

Online AncientU

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Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #9 on: 06/25/2016 06:55 PM »
Hundreds of launches per year doesn't seem so far-fetched now, does it?

USG is probably scrambling to go small with its assets, too.
Space debris clean-up better get a kick in the butt to get going... will be vitally needed in 5-10 years as the feedstock for a Kessler syndrome is delivered to orbit, so we shouldn't wait until a crisis hits (like we are prone to do).
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Offline jongoff

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Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #10 on: 06/25/2016 09:46 PM »
Space debris clean-up better get a kick in the butt to get going... will be vitally needed in 5-10 years as the feedstock for a Kessler syndrome is delivered to orbit, so we shouldn't wait until a crisis hits (like we are prone to do).

I saw a paper at a recent conference that showed what happens to the debris levels with even a single OneWeb-like constellation, assuming varying levels of success at achieving 25yrs end of life disposal. If they only manage the traditional ~55% success rate, the debris quantity grows out of control. You have to get into the 90-95% success rate for things to stabilize at all. And that's with only 900 new spacecraft. If you really had 13,500 new spacecraft (900 OneWeb, ~3000 Boeing, ~4000 SpaceX, and ~4600 Samsung), that would be 10x as many operational spacecraft as currently exist (~1200), and a 60% increase in space objects bigger than a basketball in LEO.

These groups are taking debris seriously, but they haven't completely disclosed what their end-of-life disposal plans are going to be. I would assume that ADR is going to have to be part of the solution, but would want to hear more from them first. As it is, AstroScale of Singapore is a player in this area. I might know some other groups who might be interested as well if this market can be validated...

But that's starting to drift from the topic of Boeing's specific constellation.

~Jon

Offline Sam Ho

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Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #11 on: 06/26/2016 05:20 AM »
Boeing's FCC filing is here:
http://licensing.fcc.gov/myibfs/forwardtopublictabaction.do?file_number=SATLOA2016062200058

Initial Deployment is 1396 satellites at 1200km, mostly at 45 degrees inclination with some at 55.  Final Deployment is a total of 2956 satellites adding more satellites at 55 degrees, and polar-orbit satellites at 88 degrees, 1000 km.  (p23)

They are planning cell sizes of 8-11 km on the ground. (p7)

On the orbital debris front, they are reserving 90% of their propellant to lower each satellite to an orbit below 500km and 5-year lifetime at end of mission. (p35)

There's no mention of any advanced debris mitigation, just the low disposal orbit and passive reentry.

Offline Jim

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Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #12 on: 06/26/2016 04:02 PM »
Hundreds of launches per year doesn't seem so far-fetched now, does it?

USG is probably scrambling to go small with its assets, too.
Space debris clean-up better get a kick in the butt to get going... will be vitally needed in 5-10 years as the feedstock for a Kessler syndrome is delivered to orbit, so we shouldn't wait until a crisis hits (like we are prone to do).

Yes it does, it is still pie in the sky.  Same story in the 1990's.
And anyways, it would be large numbers of spacecraft on single launches and not many launches of a few spacecraft.
and no, the USG is not moving much less scrambling to small (see recent launch)

Again, another knee jerk conclusion.  No data to support such claims
« Last Edit: 06/26/2016 04:03 PM by Jim »

Online AncientU

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Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #13 on: 06/26/2016 09:42 PM »
Recent launch was designed when? 10 years ago? 20 years ago?

Maybe the ten tonne direct to GSO will still have a place in the future, but smaller sats will play a big role in the future.  See OP.
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Offline demofsky

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Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #14 on: 06/27/2016 04:26 AM »
I have to admit I am very surprised by the use of V-band due to atmospheric attenuation.  Yes you can route around isolated storms but what the heck do you do in a place like Seattle which is socked in for months?!!  Have to wonder how serious this is. 

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #15 on: 06/27/2016 04:49 AM »
I have to admit I am very surprised by the use of V-band due to atmospheric attenuation.  Yes you can route around isolated storms but what the heck do you do in a place like Seattle which is socked in for months?!!  Have to wonder how serious this is.
Might not be a problem if used in conjunction with high-altitude drones that hang out indefinitely in the stratosphere.
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Offline jongoff

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Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #16 on: 06/27/2016 04:55 AM »
Boeing's FCC filing is here:
http://licensing.fcc.gov/myibfs/forwardtopublictabaction.do?file_number=SATLOA2016062200058

Initial Deployment is 1396 satellites at 1200km, mostly at 45 degrees inclination with some at 55.  Final Deployment is a total of 2956 satellites adding more satellites at 55 degrees, and polar-orbit satellites at 88 degrees, 1000 km.  (p23)

On the orbital debris front, they are reserving 90% of their propellant to lower each satellite to an orbit below 500km and 5-year lifetime at end of mission. (p35)

There's no mention of any advanced debris mitigation, just the low disposal orbit and passive reentry.

That's the thing. If you have 3000 spacecraft, you're going to have some of them fail in a way that prevents them from making their end of life disposal burn. Historically spacecraft have failed to make end of life disposal plans about 45% of the time. Some of that was due to deliberately dipping into propellant reserves, but what fraction was due to on-orbit failures etc. If you have 3000 spacecraft, you're probably going to want active debris removal as the suspenders/duct-tape to go with your "reserve deorbit prop" belt.

~Jon

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #17 on: 06/27/2016 04:59 AM »
SpaceX, at least, intends to retire the satellites (planned obsolescence in 4 years) much earlier than current satellites which are basically run until they stop working or very near to that point (10-30 years?). That alone should dramatically improve odds of successful disposal.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline baldusi

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Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #18 on: 06/27/2016 12:22 PM »
Really long watchdog (say 2 months) and independent deorbit system? Or launch with each batch a dedicated SEP deorbiter?

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Boeing Smallsat Constellation
« Reply #19 on: 06/27/2016 03:28 PM »
Long endurance US eg ACES, could be used to deorbit any dead satellites. Use a cubesat to find and latch onto dead satellite, and maybe preposition it for easy pickup by US. The US would pick it up next time it delivered satellites to that orbit.

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