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Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite internet

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BirdDog
Assistant Professor

Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite internet

So how many think this is going happen anytime soon, or even if it does how widespread it will be? Much of the media hype has seemed to die off.

 

Latest article I could find is below and 2024 for full capacity seems very optimistic IMO. Putting 4,425 satellites up even in LEO seems quite daunting with the comparitavley small number of space launches going on presently each year.

 

https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/4/15539934/spacex-satellite-internet-launch-2019

13 REPLIES 13
GabeU
Distinguished Professor IV

I wouldn't bet on it happening in the time frame they are giving.  Even if everything goes perfectly, it's still a monumental task to do it that quickly.  


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C0RR0SIVE
Associate Professor

If they do launches where several are deployed at a time (12+ satellites) then it's doable...  I seem to remember there being a launch recently that had satellites in the payload like that for a constelation network, was pretty cool to see the rendering of all that.  Pretty sure it was Irridium and SpaceX that launched 10 or so satellites at one time.

The issue is, at LEO and MEO, there's just too much space junk...  No one has taken up the job of being janitor yet to help collect as much junk as possible.  Throwing a few thousand satellites up is not a good idea as the junkyard will explode in time.

The issues are costs... People think that Geo sats are expensive per month, imagine only a handful of subscribers on each of those satellites...  It's just not feasible yet.

BirdDog
Assistant Professor

No fan of space junk. Would think refrigerator size satellites could be designed to totally burn up on re-entry though.

 

Handfull on each satellite? Unless I misunderstand the concept thousands could be on one satelite at any point in time and load would vary as each satllite moved in and out of coverage as it passes overhead. Don't know what they have engineered for load but think it is more than a "handful" at any point in time. Then also have to multiply users if true global coverage.

 

Not trying to cheerlead. Only trying to understand the concept and true capacity as you've mentioned. Also if it is truly going to become reality.

C0RR0SIVE
Associate Professor

With a constellation in the thousands of satellites, yeah, a handful as in a couple hundred users tops per satellite.  I don't see more than a few hundred on each one state-side, and that's if Exede and Hughesnet go under as well.  Consider this, between the two companies there's what, 3 million customers tops.  They all pay between $50 and $130 per month, spread out on 4-10 satellites depending on what platform they are.

Take that 3 million customers and throw them between a few hundred satellites.  The bill will be higher.

BirdDog
Assistant Professor

Thanks for the input and I get what you're saying but I look at it more as the whole if a global system I guess. And cost of launch and hardware is supposedly going to be much lower. Again, it gets back to my original post. Is it basically baloney?

 

I'll put you in the baloney column. Smiley Wink

GabeU
Distinguished Professor IV


@BirdDog wrote:

Thanks for the input and I get what you're saying but I look at it more as the whole if a global system I guess. 


That's what I thought, that it's supposed to be a global system.  I thought that being a global system was the whole point of it.  


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BirdDog
Assistant Professor


@GabeU wrote:

@BirdDog wrote:

Thanks for the input and I get what you're saying but I look at it more as the whole if a global system I guess. 


That's what I thought, that it's supposed to be a global system.  I thought that being a global system was the whole point of it.  


Yea, maybe 10's of millions customers versus 3-4. Again, I'm not the designers, engineers or funders. Only trying to get an understanding and discussing here because we are nerds.

GabeU
Distinguished Professor IV

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C0RR0SIVE
Associate Professor

It may be a global system, but you take the amount of satellites that will be over any given area at a given time, unless there are enough customers in that region, their costs will be a good bit higher to help offset costs of the network/satellites.  I am willing to bet people State-side would see the highest costs of anyone, to help off-set costs for low-income regions, and because we have such a small amount of people that would use the system.

Either way, I still stand by something I said a long while back, it's not going to work the way people want it to work. and will probably never see the light of day.

GabeU
Distinguished Professor IV


@C0RR0SIVE wrote:

 I am willing to bet people State-side would see the highest costs of anyone, to help off-set costs for low-income regions, and because we have such a small amount of people that would use the system.


No doubt.  

 


@C0RR0SIVE wrote:

Either way, I still stand by something I said a long while back, it's not going to work the way people want it to work. and will probably never see the light of day.


This is what I'm thinking, too, or at least it will be a lot longer off than what they suggest.  

   


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BirdDog
Assistant Professor


@GabeU wrote:

@C0RR0SIVE wrote:

 I am willing to bet people State-side would see the highest costs of anyone, to help off-set costs for low-income regions, and because we have such a small amount of people that would use the system.


No doubt.  

 


@C0RR0SIVE wrote:

Either way, I still stand by something I said a long while back, it's not going to work the way people want it to work. and will probably never see the light of day.


This is what I'm thinking, too, or at least it will be a lot longer off than what they suggest.  

   


I'm actually thinking along same lines. Wanted other inputs here from other nerds. Only time will tell as in everything.

 

Hope others will continue to post their thoughts on it.

Gwalk900
Honorary Alumnus

I don't see this happening anytime soon.

LEO's are going to need frequent replacement compared to GEO's so that equals more cost and more space junk. The demise of the Space Shuttle as originally envisioned will have doomed this project. A payload bay full of these every 4 to 6 weeks may have worked.

Looks more like a topic for a Popular Science "we will soon have flying cars and jet backpacks for everyone" type of article.

 

C0RR0SIVE
Associate Professor

So... APPARENTLY OneWeb plans on building 15 of these satellites... PER WEEK.  IF they could launch all 15 EVERY WEEK it would take less than one year to launch the entire network.  Looks like they are planning on only 648 satellites (the 4000+ was Musks idea...)

To be honest, if they can mass produce these that quickly and keep them updated so congestion isn't too much a concern...  Then costs might be affordable....  But that was the same thought with Satellite Phones and Satellite TV too, look at how much those cost anymore.

With that said, the F.C.C. has given OneWeb approval for the spectrum they want here in the states and they plan to start launches with in the next year and have service available in 2019...  Appears service will start with Alaska and the most remote regions of North America, then progress to the rest of the world over a period of years.

Makes me wonder why they want the infrastructure to take so long to get into place if they are claiming they can build 15 of these suckers a week.