Author Topic: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?  (Read 12404 times)

Online AncientU

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In 2016, Satellite-related business globally was a $260.5B industry.
Launch services constituted 2% ($5.5B), satellite manufacturing 5% ($13.9B), and the rest was satellite operations, approximately 93% ($241.1B) per SIA annual report.

http://www.sia.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/SIA-SSIR-2017.pdf

We've spent great efforts analyzing launch services, much less time discussing the satellites themselves and their manufacture, and almost no time on the elephant in the room, satellite operations and services.

docmordrid provided a complete and concise tabulation of the services (business plan of sorts) intended for the SpaceX Starlink constellation:

With net neutrality on the chopping block, Comcast and co need a real competitor more than ever. If Musk's service can compete in price and speed and provide a ethical internet service, he might take most if not all of their customers.
Or they become the back haul for Comcast and co instead.

Do we really have any strong sense of exactly what their business model is? There seem to be mixed messages about this.

From the trademark page

http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4808:gommzk.3.7

Quote
IC 038. US 100 101 104. G & S: Satellite communication and transmission services; wireless broadband communication services; transmission of data, voice and video via satellite; interactive satellite communication services; delivery of messages by electronic transmission; providing telecommunications connections to the Internet; telecommunications gateway services; providing high-speed wireless internet access; providing multiple-user access to the internet, global computer networks, and electronic communications networks; providing access to global information networks; telecommunications services via satellite; providing a website featuring information in the field of satellite communications; providing a website featuring information in the field of internet access via satellite; providing access to electronic databases and online information for use in retrieving satellite data, recordings, and measurements; satellite photography services

IC 042. US 100 101. G & S: Research and development services in the field of satellite communications; consulting services in the field of satellite communications; engineering services in the field of satellite communications; scientific and technological services, namely, research, analysis, and monitoring of data captured via remote sensors and satellites; remote sensing services, namely, aerial surveying through the use of satellites

Standard Characters Claimed   
Mark Drawing Code   (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number   87576978
Filing Date   August 21, 2017
Current Basis   1B;44D
Original Filing Basis   1B;44D
Owner   (APPLICANT) Space Exploration Technologies Corp. CORPORATION DELAWARE 1 Rocket Road Hawthorne CALIFORNIA 90250
Attorney of Record   Brendan J. Hughes
Priority Date   February 24, 2017
Type of Mark   SERVICE MARK
Register   PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator   LIVE
bold mine

The listing appears to encompass a quite a bit broader range of services than discussed so far related to the revenue potential of the constellation.  Since this will be the revenue source for getting to Mars, we should investigate more thoroughly these services and their impacts.
« Last Edit: 11/22/2017 01:30 PM by AncientU »
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Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #1 on: 11/22/2017 12:37 PM »
In 2016, Satellite-related business globally was a $260.5M industry.
...
Don't you mean Billion$?

Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #2 on: 11/22/2017 01:29 PM »
In 2016, Satellite-related business globally was a $260.5M industry.
...
Don't you mean Billion$?

OOPs...
thanks -- fixing original post.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline Semmel

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #3 on: 11/22/2017 02:10 PM »
I have seen this list month ago on this forum. I am not sure why it comes as a surprise now. I think it was discussed when the starlink name appeared for the first time. Did something change since then? I thought it is common knowledge what SpaceX plans to do with starlink.

Offline cro-magnon gramps

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #4 on: 11/22/2017 05:09 PM »
I have seen this list month ago on this forum. I am not sure why it comes as a surprise now. I think it was discussed when the starlink name appeared for the first time. Did something change since then? I thought it is common knowledge what SpaceX plans to do with starlink.

Not so common... I spend a lot of time lurking and missed this... and it would seem I'm not the only one...
if you have a link to that discussion, it might be useful for others to go over, it would help inform the discussion
here...

Personally I'm floored by the scope of the operations... this takes convergence to new heights... pun intended...I can see in 10-30 years that this could be as disruptive as electricity was to the Steam Economy of the late 19th century...

just more so... with all of the advances coming that could converge with it... and Starlink will be the precursor, holding a monopoly world wide, with it's ease of low cost replacement and evolving satellite technologies...

what will be the impact on economies of the new technology and information? Will businesses that are giants now, go down... what government regulations will be tried to impact or break up the monopoly... what sort of work force will be required to build, replace and operate all facets of operation... how will connectivity and I/O technology evolve in that time frame... how will it affect society, cultural norms, our understanding of what it means to be human...

of course I don't have concrete answers, but I know these questions will be asked and answered... unless there is a concerted effort by existing players, to prevent this evolving... but will it be as useless as those who tried to prevent the emerging technologies of the 20th century... is Elon really an evil scientist bent on world (Solar System) domination...(tongue in cheek) something to watch...
"Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but it has not solved one yet." Maya Angelou
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Offline Kosmos2001

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #5 on: 11/22/2017 05:20 PM »
From the report, it is interesting to notice that the main revenue of all that business is Satellite TV with 37.5% ($97.7B) followed by GNSS consumer equipment with 32.3% ($84.6B). Together they make an outstanding ~70% of all the space business cake. In comparison, launch services is only the 2.1% ($5.5B), close to Satellite Radio 1.9% ($5.0B).

Offline billh

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #6 on: 11/22/2017 06:06 PM »
Personally I'm floored by the scope of the operations... this takes convergence to new heights... pun intended...I can see in 10-30 years that this could be as disruptive as electricity was to the Steam Economy of the late 19th century...
I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding of the function of a trademark application is to claim as broad a scope as possible to avoid anyone else using your mark in a related field. So we should read this as a list of Starlink-related businesses SpaceX might conceivably want to pursue, not as a business plan.

Online speedevil

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #7 on: 11/22/2017 07:36 PM »
I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding of the function of a trademark application is to claim as broad a scope as possible to avoid anyone else using your mark in a related field. So we should read this as a list of Starlink-related businesses SpaceX might conceivably want to pursue, not as a business plan.
https://www.chinatrademarkoffice.com/index.php?c=tdsearch&mark=starlink&IntCls=&ln=&per_page=

I can find no relevant starlink trademarks.
They really should be doing this now, or it gets considerably harder to defend the mark in china.
Perhaps I am misusing the search engine though.

Offline cppetrie

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #8 on: 11/22/2017 08:46 PM »
I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding of the function of a trademark application is to claim as broad a scope as possible to avoid anyone else using your mark in a related field. So we should read this as a list of Starlink-related businesses SpaceX might conceivably want to pursue, not as a business plan.
https://www.chinatrademarkoffice.com/index.php?c=tdsearch&mark=starlink&IntCls=&ln=&per_page=

I can find no relevant starlink trademarks.
They really should be doing this now, or it gets considerably harder to defend the mark in china.
Perhaps I am misusing the search engine though.
See

http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4808:aio2yt.2.8

And

http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4808:aio2yt.2.7

Offline Jcc

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #9 on: 11/23/2017 02:46 AM »
The last service mentioned is a surprise: Satellite Photography Services. Don't recall mention of putting an image sensor and telescope on board, but if Planet can do it with a few hundred 3x cube sats, why not add it to 12000 small sats ( full constellation ).

Offline Semmel

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #10 on: 11/23/2017 07:17 AM »
I have seen this list month ago on this forum. I am not sure why it comes as a surprise now. I think it was discussed when the starlink name appeared for the first time. Did something change since then? I thought it is common knowledge what SpaceX plans to do with starlink.

Not so common... I spend a lot of time lurking and missed this... and it would seem I'm not the only one...
if you have a link to that discussion, it might be useful for others to go over, it would help inform the discussion
here...


Its hard to find past information in this forum. I tried my best google fu and found the earliest mentioning of Starlink here:

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.

There was quite a bit more background info at the time though. Maybe I saw the trademark list on an external site which was linked here. At least it names specifically "satellite photography services" So the information was there, probably on the disappeared reddit post.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #11 on: 11/23/2017 08:05 AM »
What are the chance that Starlink will be offering banking & cryptocurrency services? Since Musk have reacquired his old x.com domain from Paypal.

Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #12 on: 11/23/2017 11:41 AM »
From the report, it is interesting to notice that the main revenue of all that business is Satellite TV with 37.5% ($97.7B) followed by GNSS consumer equipment with 32.3% ($84.6B). Together they make an outstanding ~70% of all the space business cake. In comparison, launch services is only the 2.1% ($5.5B), close to Satellite Radio 1.9% ($5.0B).

That's the key... broadband communications are only a tiny fraction of satellite operations (2% or so), yet internet is a Trillion dollar business.  Today the customer of satellite operations is sitting at home watching Game of Thrones on HBO (I'm guilty, though I do it via wifi).  Tomorrow, we will be having this discussion via satellite, and finally (hopefully) be free of the local gouging and crappy service of local internet monopolies like Comcast. 

5th Generation wifi globally...

And then there are the autonomous vehicle applications, the continuous imaging of any/all spots on Earth, satellite-to-satellite communications, laser long haul, ...  The mind boggles.


BTW Semmel, I was one of those who missed the tabulation in OP and I'm sure there are others.  I suggest using this threadfor operations and business case/competition discussions, while the manufacturing thread concentrates more on the fabrication, testing, launch activities. 

Mods:  Please merge this thread if deemed better than a separate operations-focussed discussion.
« Last Edit: 11/23/2017 11:42 AM by AncientU »
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Online speedevil

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #13 on: 11/23/2017 11:56 AM »
What are the chance that Starlink will be offering banking & cryptocurrency services? Since Musk have reacquired his old x.com domain from Paypal.

With the currency being SLGs?
(In the next book by the author of the Martian, the unit of currency in the moon colony is effectively one soft-landed gram on the moon.)

Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #14 on: 11/23/2017 11:57 AM »
The last service mentioned is a surprise: Satellite Photography Services. Don't recall mention of putting an image sensor and telescope on board, but if Planet can do it with a few hundred 3x cube sats, why not add it to 12000 small sats ( full constellation ).

There's more:
Quote
scientific and technological services, namely, research, analysis, and monitoring of data captured via remote sensors and satellites; remote sensing services, namely, aerial surveying through the use of satellites

This goes well beyond imaging/photography.  Coverage of the planet is potentially continuous, everywhere.  12,000 sats spread over 4*Pi* steradians (~40,000 square degrees) is more than a satellite per each 2x2degree square of the sky (simplifying, of course, since there will be overlap areas around 50-55degrees latitude, geometrical considerations, etc.).  If each imager/sensor has at least a 4 sq. degree footprint, coverage will be continuous.  And the bulk of the sats are (planned to be) only a few hundred km above the ground.

I can see DoD buying a 'subscription' or two, maybe NOAO, Nat'l Weather Service, etc. -- and DoD might be a bit more than interested in anywhere broadband comms, too.

Could negate the need for many expensive USG payloads methinks.
« Last Edit: 11/23/2017 12:14 PM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Online docmordrid

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #15 on: 11/23/2017 12:27 PM »
>
This goes well beyond imaging/photography.  Coverage of the planet is potentially continuous, everywhere.  12,000 sats spread over 4*Pi* steradians (~40,000 square degrees) is more than a satellite per each 2x2degree square of the sky (simplifying, of course, since there will be overlap areas around 50-55degrees latitude, geometrical considerations, etc.).  If each imager/sensor has at least a 4 sq. degree footprint, coverage will be continuous.  And the bulk of the sats are (planned to be) only a few hundred km above the ground.

I can see DoD buying a 'subscription' or two, maybe NOAO, Nat'l Weather Service, etc. -- and DoD might be a bit more than interested in anywhere broadband comms, too.

Could negate the need for many expensive USG payloads methinks.

Which brings up STRATCOM General Hyten's recent statements

SpaceNews...

Quote
"And, as a combatant commander, I won’t support the development any further of large, big, fat, juicy targets. I won’t support that,” he insisted. “We are going to go down a different path. And we have to go down that path quickly."
« Last Edit: 11/23/2017 12:32 PM by docmordrid »
DM

Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #16 on: 11/23/2017 12:30 PM »
Machine-to-machine (thing-to-thing) connections to the internet are predicted to reach five times the world population in mid-2020s.  Still growing exponentially, while population is leveling off (predicted to peak around 10B by 2050).  Not sure if that includes autonomous personal vehicles.
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Offline Dave G

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #17 on: 11/23/2017 04:31 PM »
From the report, it is interesting to notice that the main revenue of all that business is Satellite TV with 37.5% ($97.7B) ...

Yes, but within the next few years TV content will be delivered increasingly over the internet (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.).

Offline Semmel

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #18 on: 11/23/2017 08:20 PM »
BTW Semmel, I was one of those who missed the tabulation in OP and I'm sure there are others.  I suggest using this thread for operations and business case/competition discussions, while the manufacturing thread concentrates more on the fabrication, testing, launch activities. 

Thats all right of course. I was just genuinely surprised because I stored this info as important and public and didnt really conceive that other active people here might have missed it.

And as you rightfully say, it has a lot of applications if it has an imaging device. But continuous imaging from everywhere.. wow thats a lot of data if it is in any reasonable resolution. If you have one pixel per square arc minute (thats one 1.85x1.85 square km) on earth surface. The land mass of Earth has about 510 million square km. If you take continuous data from all of that, it takes about 250 MB per frame. And thats with a resolution of one square mile (note the imperial units. You are welcome ;-) ). That sounds reasonable to store as a continuous observation. Maybe good for weather. Lets say other applications would be traffic monitoring. There you need meter type resolution. Most of earth surface does not have streets, no idea how much data that would be. But clouds make this application rather uninteresting for most places on earth. Not sure about other uses other than military or for suppression type political structures to monitor the movement of its subjects.

Offline gosnold

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #19 on: 11/25/2017 09:19 AM »
Counting cars in parking lots and monitoring commercial activity in general has value for financial companies. There are several companies, such as Orbital Insights, that sell that kind of data and there is a market for it.

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #20 on: 11/25/2017 04:14 PM »
I wonder whether the satellite imaging service they are including, could have applications for Tesla's self driving features. The continuous imaging could enable them to update Tesla's self driving cars with much more up to date maps of the road network, e.g. including things like new construction (and lane closures) or accidents.

Offline Semmel

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #21 on: 11/26/2017 09:09 AM »
I would be more careful. The trademark includes imaging services, it's not said that this is going to happen. The trademark just prevents other companies to name their earth imaging services 'starlink'. For all we know, this is not implemented at all or maybe 2 or 3 starlink sat generations down the line.

Online speedevil

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #22 on: 11/26/2017 12:01 PM »
I would be more careful. The trademark includes imaging services, it's not said that this is going to happen. The trademark just prevents other companies to name their earth imaging services 'starlink'. For all we know, this is not implemented at all or maybe 2 or 3 starlink sat generations down the line.

The ability to do ~1m imaging on earth (required for accidents and lane closures) at a high cadence with deep coverage of the earth is going to massively, massively increase the size of the sats.
For one thing, you need around a 1m mirror, 5m optical tube for that mirror, really good rapid pointing, lots of imagers, ...

Adding rather smaller ~10cm class imagers might in principle be quite easy to do, for a few test satellites, enough to try stuff operationally, and to eliminate any possible challenges to the trademark.

If you want a good imager on every sat, you're going to have to wait to after BFR.

Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #23 on: 11/26/2017 01:01 PM »
I would be more careful. The trademark includes imaging services, it's not said that this is going to happen. The trademark just prevents other companies to name their earth imaging services 'starlink'. For all we know, this is not implemented at all or maybe 2 or 3 starlink sat generations down the line.

The ability to do ~1m imaging on earth (required for accidents and lane closures) at a high cadence with deep coverage of the earth is going to massively, massively increase the size of the sats.
For one thing, you need around a 1m mirror, 5m optical tube for that mirror, really good rapid pointing, lots of imagers, ...

Adding rather smaller ~10cm class imagers might in principle be quite easy to do, for a few test satellites, enough to try stuff operationally, and to eliminate any possible challenges to the trademark.

If you want a good imager on every sat, you're going to have to wait to after BFR.

The constellation sats have 5 one meter class silicon carbide mirrors on board already, probably mostly dedicated to laser comms.  See page 50 of attachment.  Having one looking down doesn't seem like much of a technological leap.
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Offline Semmel

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #24 on: 11/26/2017 02:14 PM »
According to the document, the 5 mirrors have a combined area of 2,79 m^2. That is about 42 cm per mirror, or about 16 inch. For sat to sat com, the image quality is not the limitation factor. It's much more important to have a fast sample rate. Ground imaging does care for image quality. Sample rate can be much slower. I'm not sure the two applications can be called "essentially the same thing" like that.

Offline guckyfan

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #25 on: 11/26/2017 02:32 PM »
I am not sure how to interpret the 2.79m². Seems to be some formal value. It says 2.79m² total Debris Casualty Area, not size of the objects. I do remember a mirror diameter of 15cm mentioned elsewhere in the documents. I remember quite well because the telescope mirror I made myself about 50 years ago was 15cm too.

Online speedevil

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #26 on: 11/26/2017 02:58 PM »
I am not sure how to interpret the 2.79m². Seems to be some formal value. It says 2.79m² total Debris Casualty Area, not size of the objects. I do remember a mirror diameter of 15cm mentioned elsewhere in the documents. I remember quite well because the telescope mirror I made myself about 50 years ago was 15cm too.

It's not the silicon carbide area. Note for example that the 70 gram 'rotor bearing' has a DCA of 2.5m^2.

DCA = (from a quick google) area of object plus a 30cm border. As humans are extended objects, for any falling object it's going to damage humans in a wider area than its own area.  ( https://ses.gsfc.nasa.gov/ses_data_2010/100202_Hull.ppt p54)
So, the above 70 gram * 5 rotor bearings are small, 70g each, and each slightly dangerous for that border, plus 30cm, so .49 each, or 2.5m^2. sqrt(0.49) is 0.7, so subtract off 30cm from each side, and they're 10cm diameter or so.

There are five silicon carbide optics components with a mass of 1.5kg each, which each have a DCA of 0.558m^2.

They have a quoted impact energy of 961J.
This is (0.5*m*v^2) = 35m/s.
This is low enough that this has to be the terminal velocity.
Assuming a drag coefficient of one, what's the area for a drag of 15N.

15N=0.5*1* A*v^2 -> 30=A*v^2 -> A=30/v^2 -> A=0.024m^2.
Or around 15cm diameter if circular.

This is very close to the expected figure from the DCA, (0.15+0.3+0.3)^2 at .5625m^2.

This is not a fragile mirror, but is something like 15cm*2cm thick.

« Last Edit: 11/26/2017 03:01 PM by speedevil »

Online launchwatcher

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #27 on: 11/26/2017 03:07 PM »
I would be more careful. The trademark includes imaging services, it's not said that this is going to happen. The trademark just prevents other companies to name their earth imaging services 'starlink'. For all we know, this is not implemented at all or maybe 2 or 3 starlink sat generations down the line.
Trademark ownership is maintained by actual use of the mark in trade.   Under US law you can register a trademark before using it based on the intent to use it in the near future but you then have to file an affidavit within ~6 years of the registration to describe how you've actually used the mark.   Other countries have similar requirements.

If a trademark isn't actually used in trade for the registered scope it's supposed to eventually go away in that scope (but trademark scopes are fuzzy in practice).   

Offline IainMcClatchie

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #28 on: 11/27/2017 01:50 AM »
The mirror size needed grows as the ground sample distance shrinks.

At 1050 km altitude and 30 degree slant angle (so 1212 km slant range), you'd need a 81 cm diameter primary mirror to get 1 meter minimum features.

At 340 km altitude and 45 degree slant angle (so 480 km slant range), you'd need a 32 cm diameter primary mirror to get 1 meter minimum features.  The length from secondary to focal plane would be around 1.1 meters (scaling from the Skymapper Ritchey-Chretien, see An Overview of Wide-Field-of-View Optical Designs for Survey Telescopes).

The USG limits commercial satellites to 35 cm unless they want a special license.  I'm certain SpaceX could get that special license, so this limit is probably irrelevant.

A fairly simple camera might have a 6 km swath, and image the Earth under the orbital track twice a year.  4000 satellites would image everything once per hour, and 12000 satellites would be once every 20 minutes.  Those numbers are rough, but won't be off by more than 2x.  It would be straightforward to build a camera that could cover 4x as much swath.

A 6 km swath camera would generate about 50 megapixels/sec, perhaps 20 MB/s with near-lossless compression.  In the context of the terabits each satellite is pumping anyway, this seems like small potatoes.  A centralized ground station hoping to record those streams from 4000 or 12000 satellites would have quite a bandwidth and especially a storage challenge.  It's not clear how a single ground station could get 60 to 200 GB/s of bandwidth (assuming you don't want the ocean) into the constellation, short of using its own weather-dependent laser link.

Offline meekGee

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #29 on: 11/27/2017 02:06 AM »
The mirror size needed grows as the ground sample distance shrinks.

At 1050 km altitude and 30 degree slant angle (so 1212 km slant range), you'd need a 81 cm diameter primary mirror to get 1 meter minimum features.

At 340 km altitude and 45 degree slant angle (so 480 km slant range), you'd need a 32 cm diameter primary mirror to get 1 meter minimum features.  The length from secondary to focal plane would be around 1.1 meters (scaling from the Skymapper Ritchey-Chretien, see An Overview of Wide-Field-of-View Optical Designs for Survey Telescopes).

The USG limits commercial satellites to 35 cm unless they want a special license.  I'm certain SpaceX could get that special license, so this limit is probably irrelevant.

A fairly simple camera might have a 6 km swath, and image the Earth under the orbital track twice a year.  4000 satellites would image everything once per hour, and 12000 satellites would be once every 20 minutes.  Those numbers are rough, but won't be off by more than 2x.  It would be straightforward to build a camera that could cover 4x as much swath.

A 6 km swath camera would generate about 50 megapixels/sec, perhaps 20 MB/s with near-lossless compression.  In the context of the terabits each satellite is pumping anyway, this seems like small potatoes.  A centralized ground station hoping to record those streams from 4000 or 12000 satellites would have quite a bandwidth and especially a storage challenge.  It's not clear how a single ground station could get 60 to 200 GB/s of bandwidth (assuming you don't want the ocean) into the constellation, short of using its own weather-dependent laser link.

This is something I'm keeping an ear out for - something something ground stations something.

 
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Offline Nomadd

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #30 on: 11/27/2017 03:11 AM »
The mirror size needed grows as the ground sample distance shrinks.

At 1050 km altitude and 30 degree slant angle (so 1212 km slant range), you'd need a 81 cm diameter primary mirror to get 1 meter minimum features.

At 340 km altitude and 45 degree slant angle (so 480 km slant range), you'd need a 32 cm diameter primary mirror to get 1 meter minimum features.  The length from secondary to focal plane would be around 1.1 meters (scaling from the Skymapper Ritchey-Chretien, see An Overview of Wide-Field-of-View Optical Designs for Survey Telescopes).

The USG limits commercial satellites to 35 cm unless they want a special license.  I'm certain SpaceX could get that special license, so this limit is probably irrelevant.

A fairly simple camera might have a 6 km swath, and image the Earth under the orbital track twice a year.  4000 satellites would image everything once per hour, and 12000 satellites would be once every 20 minutes.  Those numbers are rough, but won't be off by more than 2x.  It would be straightforward to build a camera that could cover 4x as much swath.

A 6 km swath camera would generate about 50 megapixels/sec, perhaps 20 MB/s with near-lossless compression.  In the context of the terabits each satellite is pumping anyway, this seems like small potatoes.  A centralized ground station hoping to record those streams from 4000 or 12000 satellites would have quite a bandwidth and especially a storage challenge.  It's not clear how a single ground station could get 60 to 200 GB/s of bandwidth (assuming you don't want the ocean) into the constellation, short of using its own weather-dependent laser link.
There's another, newer factor. If the system is open to special requests, combining the images from dozens sats at once is going to change the old resolution/mirror size numbers quite a bit.
« Last Edit: 11/27/2017 03:12 AM by Nomadd »

Offline Asteroza

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #31 on: 11/27/2017 03:38 AM »
Don't forget DARPA MOIRE and other membrane optics to increase the actual capture area fairly cheaply (See FalconSat-7)

http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_sdat/falconsat-7.htm

A bit of an issue is pointing though. Unless you can retask a lasercomm telescope base, you will be building something that needs steering and has to stay out of the way of the main payload. Unless you are using some fancy optical phased array sensor that can steer without moving. Though there is also Lockheed/DARPA SPIDER work on silicon photonic integrated circuits with optical phased array capability so...

http://chic.caltech.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Cleo_2017_2D_OPA_V7.pdf

Offline IainMcClatchie

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #32 on: 11/27/2017 04:34 AM »
There's another, newer factor. If the system is open to special requests, combining the images from dozens sats at once is going to change the old resolution/mirror size numbers quite a bit.

You're referring to superresolution.  This doesn't do what most people think it does.

Suppose you take four 1MP pictures of the same thing, ideally with the camera jittered by 0.5 pixels in X or Y each time.  You might naively think that you can generate a 4MP picture of that thing (you can) able to resolve objects half the size (nope).  What your 4MP picture will do is resolve the horizontal position of objects twice as well.

To get an intuition for this, imagine taking a 2D Fourier transform of those 1MP images.  You now have a bunch of frequency components (at different phases).  The highest frequency component corresponds to the resolution of those images.

When you combine them together, you've sampled the various frequencies at more phases, so there is definitely more information there.  But there is no higher-frequency information available.

When you look at superresolution pictures, you can't see details that you couldn't see before.

There is no substitute for aperture.

The radar folks have a way of doing synthetic aperture radar, but they aren't doing superresolution.  Instead, they are recording the actual electric field waveform received, and instead of using a shaped antenna to do a bunch of interference to get some particular resolution, they do the interference inside a computer.  At a given power level, visible light has 100,000x fewer photons, so not enough to reconstruct the electric field waveform even if you could make an antenna that would receive it.

The heterodyne optical receiver at Caltech is also really cool, but not for taking wide-spectrum pictures of the Earth.  Their intermediate frequency was in the megahertz range, but just imagine that it could be upgraded to 100 gigahertz or so, around the limit of semiconductor electronics.  The trouble is that visible light is 463 - 716 THz, so this receiver is going to get about 0.04% of the inbound visible light.  You'd have to combine 2500 images just to get back to the sensitivity of a normal camera with the same aperture.  That's a big deficit to overcome.

The photon sieve optic is an awesome idea but note that they are using it to image the sun.  It does not have good throughput at all.  As you make the holes a larger fraction of the membrane to improve throughput, you lose field of view, rapidly.  This technology isn't ready for Earth imaging yet, but I think some kind of unfurled sieve/Fresnel hybrid has long term potential.

I'm sure I'm gonna get banned for being off topic!

Offline jebbo

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #33 on: 11/27/2017 08:07 AM »
This is something I'm keeping an ear out for - something something ground stations something.

Boca Chica would be an obvious location to watch given the FCC filing for the demo includes Cameron County and matches what is know of the ground stations quite well and we have Nomadd providing regular updates

--- Tony

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #34 on: 11/27/2017 12:57 PM »
Valuations of company rising (or not) due to constellation ops:
Quote
SpaceX Could See Its Valuation Soar to $50 Billion
Since it was established 15 years ago, the aerospace manufacturer has continued to defy expectations by meeting impossibly ambitious goals.
Quote
Jonas said that the net current value of this satellite high-speed internet business, along with some cash laying around at the company, ranges between $43 billion to $46 billion. He notes however, that if successful, the attempt, which could transform SpaceX from a pure manufacturer of advanced rockets into a massive high-speed-internet provider, could give the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company a valuation of as much as $120.6 billion. On the other hand, if the effort fails then SpaceX could be valued at only $5 billion.
http://wallstreetpit.com/114396-spacex-valuation-soar-50-billion/
« Last Edit: 11/27/2017 01:07 PM by AncientU »
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Offline Semmel

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #35 on: 11/27/2017 02:09 PM »
Quote
[...] could give the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company a valuation of as much as $120.6 billion. On the other hand, if the effort fails then SpaceX could be valued at only $5 billion.
http://wallstreetpit.com/114396-spacex-valuation-soar-50-billion/

You know you have a quality business evaluation when the possible range of company valuations between 5  and 120.6 billion.

Or in other words.. They don't have the faintest idea what they are talking about.

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #36 on: 11/27/2017 02:17 PM »
Yeah, "$120 point 6" is BS. Completely agree there. Spurious precision.

The point that most of the prospective value of SpaceX is in its constellation ambitions is true, though.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Semmel

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #37 on: 11/27/2017 03:32 PM »
Yeah, no question about that. But you don't need a business evaluation for that conclusion. An honest report would have been "the future evaluation of SpaceX strongly depends on the success or failure of their plans to create and operate the starlink constellation. Evaluation predictions are not possible at moment due to the uncertainties of the program." it's equivalent non helpful in terms of predicting the future but at least honest.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #38 on: 11/27/2017 08:09 PM »
Evaluations are complex. They encompass both the predicted revenue total over a significant period of time like 10 years plus the profit margins that would occur on those revenues.

Current evaluation of $21B is all about the launch business and the ~20% profit margin from such. But Starlink could  bump the revenue from the ~$1.5B/year into at least the $3B/year range. But the profit margin on comm sats industry is as high as 50% (see SES revenue and profit data). This could bloom the corporate value to above $50B once Starlink starts operating and shows a healthy increasing subscriber numbers. But we are going to have to wait and see how successful Starlink will become since it is dependent on a very wide and large customer base acceptance.

It all hinges on costs of deployment and operation with the acceptable prices for a large enough customer base to generate a large enough revenue to cover the large fixed costs of deployment and operation. Profits could be small <10% margin to very large >75% margin.

Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #39 on: 11/27/2017 08:43 PM »
Evaluations are complex. They encompass both the predicted revenue total over a significant period of time like 10 years plus the profit margins that would occur on those revenues.

Current evaluation of $21B is all about the launch business and the ~20% profit margin from such. But Starlink could  bump the revenue from the ~$1.5B/year into at least the $3B/year range. But the profit margin on comm sats industry is as high as 50% (see SES revenue and profit data). This could bloom the corporate value to above $50B once Starlink starts operating and shows a healthy increasing subscriber numbers. But we are going to have to wait and see how successful Starlink will become since it is dependent on a very wide and large customer base acceptance.

It all hinges on costs of deployment and operation with the acceptable prices for a large enough customer base to generate a large enough revenue to cover the large fixed costs of deployment and operation. Profits could be small <10% margin to very large >75% margin.

Believe the $21B valuation was post-Google/Fidelity investment which considered the potential of a constellation adding to revenue.  Launch services only valuation should be closer to the floor value of $5B quoted in the article or the $10B valuation just prior to the above funding.  This latest valuation considers the significantly increased scope of the constellation (I think) as well as the benefits of lowered cost deployment of the spacecraft due to progress with reusability. 

No one can be certain of the success (or failure) in SpaceX executing on such a huge rebuilding of the internet and wideband communications, so the upper numbers indicate upside potential, and the lowest number indicates that this is anything but a sure thing... basically a roll of the dice at this point.  Anyway, since stock is not public, this is mostly a thought experiment.
« Last Edit: 11/27/2017 08:45 PM by AncientU »
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #40 on: 11/27/2017 09:07 PM »
Evaluations are complex. They encompass both the predicted revenue total over a significant period of time like 10 years plus the profit margins that would occur on those revenues.

Current evaluation of $21B is all about the launch business and the ~20% profit margin from such. But Starlink could  bump the revenue from the ~$1.5B/year into at least the $3B/year range. But the profit margin on comm sats industry is as high as 50% (see SES revenue and profit data). This could bloom the corporate value to above $50B once Starlink starts operating and shows a healthy increasing subscriber numbers. But we are going to have to wait and see how successful Starlink will become since it is dependent on a very wide and large customer base acceptance.

It all hinges on costs of deployment and operation with the acceptable prices for a large enough customer base to generate a large enough revenue to cover the large fixed costs of deployment and operation. Profits could be small <10% margin to very large >75% margin.

Believe the $21B valuation was post-Google/Fidelity investment which considered the potential of a constellation adding to revenue.  Launch services only valuation should be closer to the floor value of $5B quoted in the article or the $10B valuation just prior to the above funding.  This latest valuation considers the significantly increased scope of the constellation (I think) as well as the benefits of lowered cost deployment of the spacecraft due to progress with reusability. 

No one can be certain of the success (or failure) in SpaceX executing on such a huge rebuilding of the internet and wideband communications, so the upper numbers indicate upside potential, and the lowest number indicates that this is anything but a sure thing... basically a roll of the dice at this point.  Anyway, since stock is not public, this is mostly a thought experiment.
... except to those doing the investment of 100s of millions $.

Offline calapine

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #41 on: 11/27/2017 09:46 PM »
This might fit in here:

Quote
(Reuters) - Elon Musk-led SpaceX has raised $100 million by selling shares, in an extension to a financing round earlier this year that raised up to $350 million, a regulatory filing showed on Monday.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-spacex-financing/rocket-maker-spacex-raises-another-100-million-idUSKBN1DR2PV

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #42 on: 11/27/2017 10:48 PM »
This might fit in here:

Quote
(Reuters) - Elon Musk-led SpaceX has raised $100 million by selling shares, in an extension to a financing round earlier this year that raised up to $350 million, a regulatory filing showed on Monday.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-spacex-financing/rocket-maker-spacex-raises-another-100-million-idUSKBN1DR2PV

SEC filing attached (via Axios). No info on the source of the additional $100M.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #43 on: 11/29/2017 04:13 PM »
In 2015 SpaceX purchased $255M in Solar City Bonds. https://electrek.co/2017/04/14/tesla-solar-bonds-elon-musk-spacex/ It is still believed that these bonds in some form still exist in a converted or as matured bonds. Which would have a cash value of around $280M today. Add to that the recent $450 in investment cash in 2017 as well as another $250M/year in operating margin for the launch 18 launches) and Dragon (3 dragon) operations gives a total of cash on hand of about $980M (or more). There is an unknown amount of cash in their operating account plus where the other almost $1B in investment made in 2015 went to? The unknown part is how much of this cash has been allocated or spent on the multitude of projects: pads, BFR, and Starlink. If a significant amount of that $1B still is unspent then SpaceX has sufficient funds to maintain it's fast paced development of both Starlink, and BFR even while finishing up the installation of the new pad at Boca Chica.

Note: Pads are not supper expensive for SpaceX. SLC-4E cost under $100M initially but since upgrades has possibly pushed the total spent on it to just over $100M. Boca Chica to be a from ground up pad will be at least as expensive as SLC-4E but not a lot more. Probably under $200M total. Budgets for 2018 and 2019 for BC work would be about $70M each year with possible about $30-50M in 2017.

BFR spending looks to be at the moment at a rate of $160M/year. (Although AF funded $40M in 2017 and will fund another $33M in 2018 for Raptor).

So the cash flow could look something like this:

Balance
$980M
$950M  - $30M 2017 Boca Chica
$830M  - $120M 2017 BFR (SpaceX spending above that of AF funds)
$730M  - $100M 2017 Starlink development (prototypes plus other expenditures)
$1090M  + $360M 2018 operating margin for launch (25 launches) and Dragon (5 Dragon flights) operations
$1020M  - $70M 2018 Boca Chica
$890M  - $130M 2018 BFR (SpaceX spending above that of AF funds)
$590M  - $300M 2018 Starlink development/production (production sats build (100+ sats) plus other expenditures)
$950M  + $360M 2019 operating margin for launch (25 launches) and Dragon (5 Dragon flights) operations
$880M  - $70M 2019 Boca Chica
$650M  - $250M 2019 BFR
$350M  - $300M 2019 Starlink production (production sats build (500+ sats) plus other expenditures)
$100M  - $250M 2019 8 Starlink launch deployments (~256 sats)
$470M  + $360M 2020 operating margin for launch (25 launches) and Dragon (5 Dragon flights) operations
$220M  - $250M 2020 BFR
$-80M  - $300M 2020 Starlink production (production sats build (500+ sats) plus other expenditures)
$-470M  - $390M 2020 8 Starlink launch deployments (~380 sats)

What this basically shows is that even if there is no more of that rest that $1B available SpaceX cash situation is fine until 2020. If SpaceX can get past 2020 then the Starlink revenue will reduce the negative spending surplus amounts for Starlink deployment. Possibly enough to completely cover all Starling costs in 2021. Leaving only BFR to charge against the operating margin of F9/Dragon launches

Offline guckyfan

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #44 on: 11/29/2017 04:24 PM »
If I remember correctly, cost for Boca Chica launch site was initially estimated at $85million. Estimates since have risen to ~$100 million. That includes the control center and payload processing facilities. Assuming the plan now includes the new type TEL it may be some more than that now. Numbers were in articles of the local press in Brownsville.

Offline Krankenhausen

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #45 on: 11/29/2017 04:43 PM »
I was thinking about the constellation lately and it struck me that this could be huge in finance as well. It would mean that many devices always have access to the internet, even during disasters. And if an EV survives, it can charge a phone for 1000's of hours.

If Starlink is cheap enough, that'd mean that digital payment would become even more reliable than cash!

Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #46 on: 11/29/2017 05:00 PM »
In 2015 SpaceX purchased $255M in Solar City Bonds. https://electrek.co/2017/04/14/tesla-solar-bonds-elon-musk-spacex/ It is still believed that these bonds in some form still exist in a converted or as matured bonds. Which would have a cash value of around $280M today. Add to that the recent $450 in investment cash in 2017 as well as another $250M/year in operating margin for the launch 18 launches) and Dragon (3 dragon) operations gives a total of cash on hand of about $980M (or more). There is an unknown amount of cash in their operating account plus where the other almost $1B in investment made in 2015 went to? The unknown part is how much of this cash has been allocated or spent on the multitude of projects: pads, BFR, and Starlink. If a significant amount of that $1B still is unspent then SpaceX has sufficient funds to maintain it's fast paced development of both Starlink, and BFR even while finishing up the installation of the new pad at Boca Chica.

Note: Pads are not supper expensive for SpaceX. SLC-4E cost under $100M initially but since upgrades has possibly pushed the total spent on it to just over $100M. Boca Chica to be a from ground up pad will be at least as expensive as SLC-4E but not a lot more. Probably under $200M total. Budgets for 2018 and 2019 for BC work would be about $70M each year with possible about $30-50M in 2017.

BFR spending looks to be at the moment at a rate of $160M/year. (Although AF funded $40M in 2017 and will fund another $33M in 2018 for Raptor).

So the cash flow could look something like this:

Balance
$980M
$950M  - $30M 2017 Boca Chica
$830M  - $120M 2017 BFR (SpaceX spending above that of AF funds)
$730M  - $100M 2017 Starlink development (prototypes plus other expenditures)
$1090M  + $360M 2018 operating margin for launch (25 launches) and Dragon (5 Dragon flights) operations
$1020M  - $70M 2018 Boca Chica
$890M  - $130M 2018 BFR (SpaceX spending above that of AF funds)
$590M  - $300M 2018 Starlink development/production (production sats build (100+ sats) plus other expenditures)
$950M  + $360M 2019 operating margin for launch (25 launches) and Dragon (5 Dragon flights) operations
$880M  - $70M 2019 Boca Chica
$650M  - $250M 2019 BFR
$350M  - $300M 2019 Starlink production (production sats build (500+ sats) plus other expenditures)
$100M  - $250M 2019 8 Starlink launch deployments (~256 sats)
$470M  + $360M 2020 operating margin for launch (25 launches) and Dragon (5 Dragon flights) operations
$220M  - $250M 2020 BFR
$-80M  - $300M 2020 Starlink production (production sats build (500+ sats) plus other expenditures)
$-470M  - $390M 2020 8 Starlink launch deployments (~380 sats)

What this basically shows is that even if there is no more of that rest that $1B available SpaceX cash situation is fine until 2020. If SpaceX can get past 2020 then the Starlink revenue will reduce the negative spending surplus amounts for Starlink deployment. Possibly enough to completely cover all Starling costs in 2021. Leaving only BFR to charge against the operating margin of F9/Dragon launches

Thanks for this.
I'd anticipate another round of funding ($1B-$2B?) about the time the sats are proven and full-scale production begins... this would be end of next year or so.  Just as getting Tesla Model 3 full production has been a huge cash sink, satellite production will be too, and a cash cushion will be needed to keep roll-out on schedule.  Having to get 800 sats launched before operational could take 2-3 years, so 2021-2022, before that revenue stream established.
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Offline philw1776

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #47 on: 11/29/2017 07:38 PM »
In 2015 SpaceX purchased $255M in Solar City Bonds. https://electrek.co/2017/04/14/tesla-solar-bonds-elon-musk-spacex/ It is still believed that these bonds in some form still exist in a converted or as matured bonds. Which would have a cash value of around $280M today. Add to that the recent $450 in investment cash in 2017 as well as another $250M/year in operating margin for the launch 18 launches) and Dragon (3 dragon) operations gives a total of cash on hand of about $980M (or more). There is an unknown amount of cash in their operating account plus where the other almost $1B in investment made in 2015 went to? The unknown part is how much of this cash has been allocated or spent on the multitude of projects: pads, BFR, and Starlink. If a significant amount of that $1B still is unspent then SpaceX has sufficient funds to maintain it's fast paced development of both Starlink, and BFR even while finishing up the installation of the new pad at Boca Chica.

Note: Pads are not supper expensive for SpaceX. SLC-4E cost under $100M initially but since upgrades has possibly pushed the total spent on it to just over $100M. Boca Chica to be a from ground up pad will be at least as expensive as SLC-4E but not a lot more. Probably under $200M total. Budgets for 2018 and 2019 for BC work would be about $70M each year with possible about $30-50M in 2017.

BFR spending looks to be at the moment at a rate of $160M/year. (Although AF funded $40M in 2017 and will fund another $33M in 2018 for Raptor).

So the cash flow could look something like this:

Balance
$980M
$950M  - $30M 2017 Boca Chica
$830M  - $120M 2017 BFR (SpaceX spending above that of AF funds)
$730M  - $100M 2017 Starlink development (prototypes plus other expenditures)
$1090M  + $360M 2018 operating margin for launch (25 launches) and Dragon (5 Dragon flights) operations
$1020M  - $70M 2018 Boca Chica
$890M  - $130M 2018 BFR (SpaceX spending above that of AF funds)
$590M  - $300M 2018 Starlink development/production (production sats build (100+ sats) plus other expenditures)
$950M  + $360M 2019 operating margin for launch (25 launches) and Dragon (5 Dragon flights) operations
$880M  - $70M 2019 Boca Chica
$650M  - $250M 2019 BFR
$350M  - $300M 2019 Starlink production (production sats build (500+ sats) plus other expenditures)
$100M  - $250M 2019 8 Starlink launch deployments (~256 sats)
$470M  + $360M 2020 operating margin for launch (25 launches) and Dragon (5 Dragon flights) operations
$220M  - $250M 2020 BFR
$-80M  - $300M 2020 Starlink production (production sats build (500+ sats) plus other expenditures)
$-470M  - $390M 2020 8 Starlink launch deployments (~380 sats)

What this basically shows is that even if there is no more of that rest that $1B available SpaceX cash situation is fine until 2020. If SpaceX can get past 2020 then the Starlink revenue will reduce the negative spending surplus amounts for Starlink deployment. Possibly enough to completely cover all Starling costs in 2021. Leaving only BFR to charge against the operating margin of F9/Dragon launches

I THINK Musk may spin off a separate Starlink company that manufactures, launches and perhaps operates satellites.  Sell shares to his VC and corporate buddies but still stay private.  He won't be as concerned about maintaining voting control as it does not affect the Mars goal.
I believe he could raise plenty to fund the building and launching of Starlink.  Starlink corp would buy F9, BFR satellite launches as a bulk discount price, still profitable to SpaceX.  Cash flow problem solved, assuming SpaceX performs.
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #48 on: 11/29/2017 09:03 PM »

I THINK Musk may spin off a separate Starlink company that manufactures, launches and perhaps operates satellites.  Sell shares to his VC and corporate buddies but still stay private.  He won't be as concerned about maintaining voting control as it does not affect the Mars goal.
I believe he could raise plenty to fund the building and launching of Starlink.  Starlink corp would buy F9, BFR satellite launches as a bulk discount price, still profitable to SpaceX.  Cash flow problem solved, assuming SpaceX performs.
Maybe as the operator but probably not as the hardware manufacturer. Plus it would be a solely owend subsidiary if anything such that all profits are passed up to SpaceX for SpaceX's use. Otherwise it would add complexity added costs and other items that does not add anything to the venture.

Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #49 on: 11/29/2017 09:59 PM »

I THINK Musk may spin off a separate Starlink company that manufactures, launches and perhaps operates satellites.  Sell shares to his VC and corporate buddies but still stay private.  He won't be as concerned about maintaining voting control as it does not affect the Mars goal.
I believe he could raise plenty to fund the building and launching of Starlink.  Starlink corp would buy F9, BFR satellite launches as a bulk discount price, still profitable to SpaceX.  Cash flow problem solved, assuming SpaceX performs.

He needs short term cash to build/launch Starlink, but needs long term cash flow to see Mars venture through.  Mars is a decades long (40-100 year) development effort.  Gonna need buckets of cash from here to... ...forever.
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #50 on: 12/09/2017 06:56 PM »
Cross post from other Starlink thread to be able to discuss the market potential for hosted payloads on Starlink.

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.

The questions are:
What is the size of the market for hosted payloads keyed to the sizes of the hosted payloads?
What are the prices that customers are willing to pay for hosted payloads?
What are the sizes needed for certain sensor types?

The basic item is that a comm sat is a logical host for hosted payloads in that it offers significant data communications support as naturally part of the capability of the sat. Therefor able to sell a significant data rate (Iridium Prime hosted payload support is 1Mb/s to 20Mb/s). Starlink's could be easily up to 1Gb/s. To give an example how much data 1Mb/s represents a UHD camera running at 1/15th frame rate produces a 1Mb/s data stream. So a full rate or even over clocked frame rate 60 frames /second UHD cammera would only be a 30Mb/s data stream.

So what would the business case for Starlink to have hosted payloads look like?
How much income would be likely to be garnered from such?

Offline groundbound

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #51 on: 12/09/2017 07:31 PM »
Cross post from other Starlink thread to be able to discuss the market potential for hosted payloads on Starlink.

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.

The questions are:
What is the size of the market for hosted payloads keyed to the sizes of the hosted payloads?
What are the prices that customers are willing to pay for hosted payloads?
What are the sizes needed for certain sensor types?

The basic item is that a comm sat is a logical host for hosted payloads in that it offers significant data communications support as naturally part of the capability of the sat. Therefor able to sell a significant data rate (Iridium Prime hosted payload support is 1Mb/s to 20Mb/s). Starlink's could be easily up to 1Gb/s. To give an example how much data 1Mb/s represents a UHD camera running at 1/15th frame rate produces a 1Mb/s data stream. So a full rate or even over clocked frame rate 60 frames /second UHD cammera would only be a 30Mb/s data stream.

So what would the business case for Starlink to have hosted payloads look like?
How much income would be likely to be garnered from such?

The other question that springs to my mind is if the market would be better served by having dedicated satellites for hosting. Make them as similar to the Starlink sats as possible: common bus, common dispenser interface, etc. The reasons for doing this might be more business model based than technical. You could also potentially configure them with a higher initial fuel load to reach a wider range of orbits even if launched from a dispenser full of normal starling sats.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #52 on: 12/09/2017 08:49 PM »
Cross post from other Starlink thread to be able to discuss the market potential for hosted payloads on Starlink.

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.

The questions are:
What is the size of the market for hosted payloads keyed to the sizes of the hosted payloads?
What are the prices that customers are willing to pay for hosted payloads?
What are the sizes needed for certain sensor types?

The basic item is that a comm sat is a logical host for hosted payloads in that it offers significant data communications support as naturally part of the capability of the sat. Therefor able to sell a significant data rate (Iridium Prime hosted payload support is 1Mb/s to 20Mb/s). Starlink's could be easily up to 1Gb/s. To give an example how much data 1Mb/s represents a UHD camera running at 1/15th frame rate produces a 1Mb/s data stream. So a full rate or even over clocked frame rate 60 frames /second UHD cammera would only be a 30Mb/s data stream.

So what would the business case for Starlink to have hosted payloads look like?
How much income would be likely to be garnered from such?

The other question that springs to my mind is if the market would be better served by having dedicated satellites for hosting. Make them as similar to the Starlink sats as possible: common bus, common dispenser interface, etc. The reasons for doing this might be more business model based than technical. You could also potentially configure them with a higher initial fuel load to reach a wider range of orbits even if launched from a dispenser full of normal starling sats.
The key selling point for selling/leasing hosted payload space is the easy access connection in being part of the large data network provided by the comm constellation. Any custom sats would still have to be a comm sat and part of the constellation even if they are in non-normal different orbits and have no downlink/uplink but only the sat to sat crosslinks. Without the uplink/downlink phased array there would be a capability to house a SAR or a large aperture telescope. But these two examples are both large hosted payloads and are not likely to number very many probably less than a 100 total. Basically what you are suggesting is not hosted payloads but custom sats that are linked into the network.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #53 on: 12/10/2017 09:33 PM »
This is probably the starting point for the hosted payload market evaluation.

http://spaceworksforecast.com/docs/SpaceWorks_Nano_Microsatellite_Market_Forecast_2017.pdf

The time frames and the sats sizes and numbers 1-50kg sizes and 200-300 per year make the these size as hosted payloads the market to chase. The larger size hosted payloads would be likely an order of magnitude less in quantity for only a 4X increase in size. So the likelihood is that the potential of revenue for the 1-50kg hosted payload size would bring in more revenue than a larger hosted payload size as much as 2.5X more for the same available space and weight.

The notice is that a hosted payload space capability of no more than 40kg is enough for most Earth observation single instrument hosted payloads.

In 2024 when the launch rate goes up to the amount of 2000 sats launched per year offering large spaces for hosted payloads is deemed not warranted but small space on the order of 50kg that can be subdivided for hosting multiple such as 4 3U cubesats is more closely aligned to the emerging markets. Even if only 10% of the spacing is filled by commercial cubesats /microsats that is still over 7 years will reach an annual lease income of up to $140M/year. Over the 7 year life of the sats that is an income of just under $1B that will counter the costs of the replacement of each constillations 12,000 sats over each 7 year period of $7.2B. Hosted payloads would be just one more revenue stream to increase the cash flow and to bolster the business case for Starlink.

NOTE: The current launch price for a 5kg an ~ 3U size sat is at $300K. The rental of a 3U space set at $25K/year over the life of the comm sat of 7 years is $175K. So it is possible to offer a cost savings as well as an operational savings in that only a VPN connection to the orbiting sat is needed by the data server on the ground that is recording everything the hosted payload is sending down continuously.
« Last Edit: 12/10/2017 10:26 PM by oldAtlas_Eguy »

Offline Radical_Ignorant

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #54 on: 12/15/2017 10:29 AM »
In 2015 SpaceX purchased $255M in Solar City Bonds. https://electrek.co/2017/04/14/tesla-solar-bonds-elon-musk-spacex/ It is still believed that these bonds in some form still exist in a converted or as matured bonds. Which would have a cash value of around $280M today. Add to that the recent $450 in investment cash in 2017 as well as another $250M/year in operating margin for the launch 18 launches) and Dragon (3 dragon) operations gives a total of cash on hand of about $980M (or more). There is an unknown amount of cash in their operating account plus where the other almost $1B in investment made in 2015 went to? The unknown part is how much of this cash has been allocated or spent on the multitude of projects: pads, BFR, and Starlink. If a significant amount of that $1B still is unspent then SpaceX has sufficient funds to maintain it's fast paced development of both Starlink, and BFR even while finishing up the installation of the new pad at Boca Chica.

Note: Pads are not supper expensive for SpaceX. SLC-4E cost under $100M initially but since upgrades has possibly pushed the total spent on it to just over $100M. Boca Chica to be a from ground up pad will be at least as expensive as SLC-4E but not a lot more. Probably under $200M total. Budgets for 2018 and 2019 for BC work would be about $70M each year with possible about $30-50M in 2017.

BFR spending looks to be at the moment at a rate of $160M/year. (Although AF funded $40M in 2017 and will fund another $33M in 2018 for Raptor).

So the cash flow could look something like this:

Balance
$980M
$950M  - $30M 2017 Boca Chica
$830M  - $120M 2017 BFR (SpaceX spending above that of AF funds)
$730M  - $100M 2017 Starlink development (prototypes plus other expenditures)
$1090M  + $360M 2018 operating margin for launch (25 launches) and Dragon (5 Dragon flights) operations
$1020M  - $70M 2018 Boca Chica
$890M  - $130M 2018 BFR (SpaceX spending above that of AF funds)
$590M  - $300M 2018 Starlink development/production (production sats build (100+ sats) plus other expenditures)
$950M  + $360M 2019 operating margin for launch (25 launches) and Dragon (5 Dragon flights) operations
$880M  - $70M 2019 Boca Chica
$650M  - $250M 2019 BFR
$350M  - $300M 2019 Starlink production (production sats build (500+ sats) plus other expenditures)
$100M  - $250M 2019 8 Starlink launch deployments (~256 sats)
$470M  + $360M 2020 operating margin for launch (25 launches) and Dragon (5 Dragon flights) operations
$220M  - $250M 2020 BFR
$-80M  - $300M 2020 Starlink production (production sats build (500+ sats) plus other expenditures)
$-470M  - $390M 2020 8 Starlink launch deployments (~380 sats)

What this basically shows is that even if there is no more of that rest that $1B available SpaceX cash situation is fine until 2020. If SpaceX can get past 2020 then the Starlink revenue will reduce the negative spending surplus amounts for Starlink deployment. Possibly enough to completely cover all Starling costs in 2021. Leaving only BFR to charge against the operating margin of F9/Dragon launches

In my ignorant opinion that makes no sense. What those number means? They are just some ways of accounting. What's behind them is mostly engineers which do require salary. Only small part of those numbers goes to outside companies and are flexible cash positions. Most of what SpaceX has is tooling fixed cost, money upfront required (this is part of cost for every launch of F9 but SX is not paying a dolar from their balance). BFR development cost depends mostly how many engineers will work on it. Those very guys do take salary now as well, but by accountants they are counted as part of every F9/Dragon/FH cost.

Musk said clearly that they want to shift most of their available resources to BFR development. Current resources, so no new cost. What is required as new cost, as outsourced work? Tooling for BFR - sure. Some carbon composites work - sure. Some building effort - sure. But this all is not even close to numbers you gave. 70% of F9 by value is made in house. So treating expenses as money is relevant only to this 30% of things that are outsourced.

People working in Seattle area - they can't be counted as current cost, they are something new, but quite big part of them is already working and being paid. Do you think that SpaceX spends more than it's revenue is? If they are already spending more than earning then there is a clear deadline when constellation needs to start making revenue. If not I don't see how it could be a problem.

Anyway - my point - accountants do present in money terms things which are not money. If most of cost of F9 launch is counted as amortisation of long ago paid development, Hawthorne factory and tooling? Does that mean, that SX can not take those costs if they won't launch, that not launching will save them any of that? Because that how it looks in books when everything is presented as $number.

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #55 on: 12/15/2017 06:33 PM »
My numbers is all about cash flow not profit (taxable income calculation). For taxable income the amortization charges for prior year expenditures for development and capital equipment is charged off against the margin between current year revenue and current year expenditures.

But cash flow is the determination if the company has the real funds too pay it's people, buy capital equipment, and make contracts for flight hardware or development of flight hardware.

Yes you are correct in that accounting makes all of this a jungle and sometimes a simplistic view is significantly removed from the reality of what is happening in ether cash flow or taxable income calculation (profit).

You may also be correct that revenue from F9/FH/CRS/CC/[gov development contracts] is paying the complete payroll. If that is so then the cash is only needed for things like pads, buildings, and purchases (tooling equipment, flight hardware [sub-contracts], and materials) outside of normal operation expenses for buildings, tooling maintenance, flight hardware, and materials.

Then the situation may be rosier than it seems for BFR full speed ahead.

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #56 on: 12/19/2017 09:58 PM »
And here we go....


Quote
Peter B. de Selding @pbdes
Spanish govt Paz civil/military radar sat, built by @AirbusSpace, is readied for airlift from Spain to Calif/VAFB for Jan 30 @SpaceX mission. 1,400-kg Paz to launch w/ 2 SpaceX microsats that will demo future broadband constellation & provide ITU registration (BIU).
6:55 AM - Dec 19, 2017

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/943087366499168256
DM

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #57 on: 12/22/2017 06:22 PM »
With the first 2 test sats going up late Jan/ early Feb, I expect the first set of production sats to be launched at about +18 months. That includes 6 months of testing with these 2 sats to delve out the problems and solutions and software needed for the production models. Then 1 year for a combined very short design period with manufacturing gearing up with the first 20-30 sats delivered around Jun 2019 with launch Aug 2019. Then launches every 2 months of additional sets with the duration between shortening by a few days each cycle until launches occurring at just less than 1 month duration.

Operational point (800+ sats) is reached around Mid to late 2021 based on how many sats can be launched on each F9 flight (20 [latest date] or 32 [earlier date]).

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #58 on: 12/26/2017 02:58 PM »
With the first 2 test sats going up late Jan/ early Feb, I expect the first set of production sats to be launched at about +18 months. That includes 6 months of testing with these 2 sats to delve out the problems and solutions and software needed for the production models. Then 1 year for a combined very short design period with manufacturing gearing up with the first 20-30 sats delivered around Jun 2019 with launch Aug 2019. Then launches every 2 months of additional sets with the duration between shortening by a few days each cycle until launches occurring at just less than 1 month duration.

Operational point (800+ sats) is reached around Mid to late 2021 based on how many sats can be launched on each F9 flight (20 [latest date] or 32 [earlier date]).
I think it may be sooner than 18 months for the first production, we'll see. SpaceX iterates fast so there may be another pait to test with prior to production start.
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #59 on: 12/26/2017 07:52 PM »
With the first 2 test sats going up late Jan/ early Feb, I expect the first set of production sats to be launched at about +18 months. That includes 6 months of testing with these 2 sats to delve out the problems and solutions and software needed for the production models. Then 1 year for a combined very short design period with manufacturing gearing up with the first 20-30 sats delivered around Jun 2019 with launch Aug 2019. Then launches every 2 months of additional sets with the duration between shortening by a few days each cycle until launches occurring at just less than 1 month duration.

Operational point (800+ sats) is reached around Mid to late 2021 based on how many sats can be launched on each F9 flight (20 [latest date] or 32 [earlier date]).
I think it may be sooner than 18 months for the first production, we'll see. SpaceX iterates fast so there may be another pait to test with prior to production start.
A definite possibility of 2 to 4 production prototypes at 12+ months from the Feb launched set. Since these would be actual production constellation like in features wattage/bandwidth/spot sizes/cross links they would be covered under the general FCC license for the constellation. Meaning we would not get any indication by following applications for FCC licensing. We would only know if this will happen if SpaceX releases the info about such.

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #60 on: 12/27/2017 12:48 AM »
I wouldn't be super surprised if SpaceX puts Earth observation cameras on Starlink eventually, especially if they start working more closely with Tesla. It can help improve Tesla's mapping system, which currently is much worse than Google Maps.

Google has invested a lot in mapping and now owns some Earth observation constellations which they algorithmically extract features from for Google Maps.
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Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #61 on: 12/27/2017 12:25 PM »
With the first 2 test sats going up late Jan/ early Feb, I expect the first set of production sats to be launched at about +18 months. That includes 6 months of testing with these 2 sats to delve out the problems and solutions and software needed for the production models. Then 1 year for a combined very short design period with manufacturing gearing up with the first 20-30 sats delivered around Jun 2019 with launch Aug 2019. Then launches every 2 months of additional sets with the duration between shortening by a few days each cycle until launches occurring at just less than 1 month duration.

Operational point (800+ sats) is reached around Mid to late 2021 based on how many sats can be launched on each F9 flight (20 [latest date] or 32 [earlier date]).
I think it may be sooner than 18 months for the first production, we'll see. SpaceX iterates fast so there may be another pait to test with prior to production start.
A definite possibility of 2 to 4 production prototypes at 12+ months from the Feb launched set. Since these would be actual production constellation like in features wattage/bandwidth/spot sizes/cross links they would be covered under the general FCC license for the constellation. Meaning we would not get any indication by following applications for FCC licensing. We would only know if this will happen if SpaceX releases the info about such.

If they are seeking a new round of funding as some suspect, they'll release some general success-type news to up the stock value.  Expect them to attempt to be operational late 2020 or early 2021... but many things can go wrong.
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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #62 on: 12/27/2017 12:29 PM »
I wouldn't be super surprised if SpaceX puts Earth observation cameras on Starlink eventually, especially if they start working more closely with Tesla. It can help improve Tesla's mapping system, which currently is much worse than Google Maps.

Google has invested a lot in mapping and now owns some Earth observation constellations which they algorithmically extract features from for Google Maps.

I'd expect imaging prototypes from the start.  Will definitely dictate some operating parameters and internally use some bandwidth/generate some revenue while they are getting the first 800 sats aloft.
« Last Edit: 12/27/2017 07:29 PM by AncientU »
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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #63 on: 12/27/2017 12:39 PM »
I wouldn't be super surprised if SpaceX puts Earth observation cameras on Starlink eventually, especially if they start working more closely with Tesla. It can help improve Tesla's mapping system, which currently is much worse than Google Maps.

Google has invested a lot in mapping and now owns some Earth observation constellations which they algorithmically extract features from for Google Maps.

See also this study of just how far ahead Google is (of everyone else).. .kind of a long read but fascinating.

https://www.justinobeirne.com/google-maps-moat/

Doing something about that (other than just licensing Google as everyone else seems to be doing) smacks of the sort of thing Elon would like. HOWEVER, with Google as an investor of Starlink, the actual path might be twisty.
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #64 on: 12/27/2017 07:54 PM »
This discussion got stared in the FH thread but should be here.

The discussion was about how many Starlink sats could fit in the faring or lengthened faring on the FH.

If the dimensions of 4m X 1.8m X 1.2M are correct then even a lengthened faring would only hold 15 sats at a mass of ~7.5mt. Without a longer faring then only 10 sats.

At only 10 sats per launch in order to get to 800 sats in 2 years of launching requires 40 launches a year of just Starlink sats in starting in mid 2019 and by mid 2021 would have 800 sats. But 40 addition launches per year above the already ~25 launches per year is a total of 65 launches per year. In order to achieve those rates Boca Chica would be launching at the rate of 12 per year, 40 and 39A at the rate of 2 /month each (weekly launches from the combined pads), and VAFB SLC-4E at at least 6/year.

If the size is correct then this represents an explosion in the launch rate starting in mid 2019. Jumping from up to 30 to more than 60.

Between Starlink and OneWeb the yearly launch rate worldwide will increase by >50% from its current up to 90 to  as high as 150 world wide.

This very high launch rate will require significant new infrastructure to be able to make it happen. One of which is an active Boca Chica launch pad capable of at least 12 GTO launches per year including non-government or non-crewed FH launches toward low inclinations.

Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #65 on: 12/27/2017 09:58 PM »
I wouldn't be super surprised if SpaceX puts Earth observation cameras on Starlink eventually, especially if they start working more closely with Tesla. It can help improve Tesla's mapping system, which currently is much worse than Google Maps.

Google has invested a lot in mapping and now owns some Earth observation constellations which they algorithmically extract features from for Google Maps.

See also this study of just how far ahead Google is (of everyone else).. .kind of a long read but fascinating.

https://www.justinobeirne.com/google-maps-moat/

Doing something about that (other than just licensing Google as everyone else seems to be doing) smacks of the sort of thing Elon would like. HOWEVER, with Google as an investor of Starlink, the actual path might be twisty.

Apparently, the meta-data collected by Tesla autonomous vehicles would be a huge treasure chest along the lines of Google Maps data.  (Picture a hundred thousand vehicles with full sensor suite vs a fleet of hundreds(?) of Google street view vehicles.)  The sophistication to actually mine those data would be a new level of tech that might be beyond anyone's reach today.  Similarly with continuous optical coverage of the ground from thousands of satellites. (Compare to several (?) to tens (?) of optical imaging satellites flown by Google.) 

The possibilities boggle the mind.
« Last Edit: 12/27/2017 09:59 PM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Online docmordrid

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #66 on: 12/28/2017 05:52 AM »
Tesla will be upgrading their nav  system in early 2018, perfect timing to include hooks for new techs and map providers.

Elon Musk ✔ @elonmusk
Major navigation overhaul coming in early 2018. Will be light-years ahead of current system, but we are testing it rigorously before rolling out.
« Last Edit: 12/28/2017 05:52 AM by docmordrid »
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Offline deruch

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #67 on: 12/28/2017 09:23 AM »
>
I have failed to find a nice mass or volume number for the satellites.
>
I've failed to find any source saying the volume for the satellite is between 3m^3 and 6m^3, and not (say) 1m^3.
>

Here ya go....

I have problems with this. This gives the satellite body dimensions as 4*1.8*1.2m - 8.6m^3, so a completely naive view might be that ~6 satellites might fit inside the fairing.

However, Iridium-next satellite dimensions are from one source given as  3.1 m x 2.4 m x 1.5 m - 11.1m^3, and that launched ten.

Iridium weighs over twice as much.
4*1.8*1.2 is also notably rather larger than a refrigerator (annoyingly, I can find lots of people repeating this claim, but can't find a source at the 2015 announcement, other transcripts of what Elon has said, or ...)

If we take 4*1.8*1.2 as gospel, and not unfolded, this is also for example consistent with a pie-wedge shape 4m high, 1.8m wide, with the segments being 1.2m along the outside diameter. this allows fitting 22 into the existing fairing.

If the 'size of a refrigerator' is to be believed, then 1.8*1.2*1.2 would about work, with around 40 fitting, assuming rectangular boxes.
Either of these would also be about consistent with Iridium satellite density, not way under it.

The dimensions given are used for the orbital decay drag calculation, so most definitely the unfolded dimensions.

I think Iridium birds are 2.4 m tall and 1.5 m thick, with 3.1 m being the unfolded span of the arrays. If the SpaceX birds are designed along the same lines, they would be 1.8 m tall, 1.2 m thick, with a 4 m array span. Assuming the folded width maintains around the same 80% size ratio to Iridium, they could fit at least 6 in a ring (Iridium fits 5). They could easily fit 3 rings high in the current fairing, plus a small ring of 3 on top, for a total of 21. If they get 7 per ring and 4 in a smaller ring on top, that's 25 per launch, or exactly 1/2 an orbital plane. It's also about 10,000 kg including dispensers, which is about what F9 Block 5 will launch to to 1000 km polar orbit with booster RTLS.

The chart with the sizes has a separate listings for satellite body and solar array.  Maybe there are unfolded antennas that are contributing to that 4m dimension but it isn't from the solar arrays.
Shouldn't reality posts be in "Advanced concepts"?  --Nomadd

Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #68 on: 12/28/2017 11:58 AM »
Tesla will be upgrading their nav  system in early 2018, perfect timing to include hooks for new techs and map providers.

Elon Musk ✔ @elonmusk
Major navigation overhaul coming in early 2018. Will be light-years ahead of current system, but we are testing it rigorously before rolling out.

Quote
Vastly better maps/nav coming soon
https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/945749747129659392
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-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Online speedevil

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #69 on: 12/28/2017 02:43 PM »
This discussion got stared in the FH thread but should be here.

The discussion was about how many Starlink sats could fit in the faring or lengthened faring on the FH.

If the dimensions of 4m X 1.8m X 1.2M are correct then even a lengthened faring would only hold 15 sats at a mass of ~7.5mt. Without a longer faring then only 10 sats.

At only 10 sats per launch in order to get to 800 sats in 2 years of launching requires 40 launches a year of just Starlink sats in starting in mid 2019 and by mid 2021 would have 800 sats. But 40 addition launches per year above the already ~25 launches per year is a total of 65 launches per year. In order to achieve those rates Boca Chica would be launching at the rate of 12 per year, 40 and 39A at the rate of 2 /month each (weekly launches from the combined pads), and VAFB SLC-4E at at least 6/year.

If the size is correct then this represents an explosion in the launch rate starting in mid 2019. Jumping from up to 30 to more than 60.

This table from the FCC describes the satellites. However it is unclear.
It describes a satellite with a body dimension of 4*1.8*1.2m
As mentioned in my post quoted a few posts ago include, shapes which have a maximum dimension of 4*1.8*1.2m include ones which can pack 22 into a standard fairing.
(4m tall pie wedge shape).

No reasonable person would describe a 4m tall or long thing as 'refrigerator sized'.

1.8*1.2*1.2-0.9*0.6*0.6 would be consistent with refrigerator sizes, the latter would require an unlikely density, to hit the above mass of 386kg, the former would be reasonably consistent with Iridium satellite density.

To avoid doubly folding the solar panels, and to get 2m*6m solar panels on the thing, it seems reasonable the overall dimension when packed would be ~2m in minimum height, with five panels lying against the sides, each of 1.2m wide.
Coincidentally, this is very close to the size of the dragon solar panels. (I was lazy and measured from this paper model )

If we want to fit such a satellite in a 4.6m diameter fairing, one idea that springs to mind is a pie wedge design, with a 60cm core.
If we imagine several whole pies stacked vertically at 1.3m spacing, with eleven satellites per pie, that comes out as 55 on 5 pies, with perhaps another 5 on top.

The short side adjacent to the core would be mostly filled with folded solar panels, which have 16cm for 10 panels.

At 386kg (say 450 total plus dispenser) per satellite, this is 24000kg.

This is one possible design which is consistent with the available data, and seems broadly consistent with what's possible.

It implies that the existing fairing may be quite adequate for Falcon 9 to max out mass, given published data on Starlink sats, requiring only 14 launches to get 800 up with the standard fairing.

Or considerably fewer launches with Falcon heavy and a larger fairing.

If you want to argue you can only fit 10 in a Falcon 9 stock fairing, that means that the packed density is well under half that of Iridium-next.
Given that Starlink was carefully designed with insider knowledge about F9 and plans for the future, presumably with no thought given to not launching on F9/F9H - it would seem ridiculous for this to be the case.

Especially as they know they're going to be spending >>$1B on launch costs, and are not buying pre-designed satellite busses that are not optimised.

A much larger fairing is also a much heavier fairing, and if you're spending 4 tons of launch on a fairing expansion, and launching 40 per year, spending even several hundred million dollars getting your satellites down to a more dense packing makes sense.
« Last Edit: 01/15/2018 03:20 AM by speedevil »

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #70 on: 12/28/2017 10:15 PM »
I hope you are correct that the launch size is indeed about 1/6th the quoted body size. That then makes possible to use FH to launch a full ring 50+ sats for a cost internal to FH ~$55M or $1.1M vs 25 with F9 at a internal cost to SpaceX of $32M or $1.28M. Even though there is just a seemingly small savings per sat of $0.18M when you multiply by 1000 sats you get $180M savings.

As long as the number of sats launchable by FH is a greater factor than the cost of FH over F9 then there will be an incentive to use FH and not just a few but alot of them 8+ launches per year. for just 400 sats per year in first couple of years with launch rate doubling in later couple of years to 16+ launches of FH per year.

All of this keeps pointing out how SpaceX has a great need for BFR to be available sooner rather than latter in order to significantly save on costs of deployment for Starlink.

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Re: SpaceX - now a satellite (constellation) operator?
« Reply #71 on: 12/28/2017 11:11 PM »
All of this keeps pointing out how SpaceX has a great need for BFR to be available sooner rather than latter in order to significantly save on costs of deployment for Starlink.

Once you've got a minimal constellation, even perhaps a minimal demo constellation over one spot for a week when you can let VCs play with it, the amount of profit they'd require for a 5 year bond to fund launch on F9/H till initial operating revenues cover all your costs so far may be reasonable.

There are costs to letting your competitors get close, which may exceed the cost of sacrificing some revenue to outside investors for the initial period of deployment, or waiting for BFR.

BFR would make things much, much nicer, even if initially it can only launch a handful of satellites due to BFS/SSTO.

(Borderline plausible with optimistic assumptions).

I just thought for a moment of using F9H to launch landing fuel for BFR, along with recovering S2. Send help.
« Last Edit: 12/29/2017 02:49 AM by speedevil »

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