SpaceX is pushing the limits of technology in several areas at the same time. Their use of phased array wireless links to steer narrow beams to and from the satellites will be pushing the limits of what has been done. This is mostly known technology, but doing it to the degree they’re doing it will be challenging. The use of free-space laser links between satellites is relatively unknown technology. The European Space Agency previously demonstrated that it was possible, but SpaceX will need to track more targets simultaneously and achieve higher data rates.
Starlink will send messages via a series of ground stations that will transmit information through radio waves to the satellites above. These satellites would then relay the messages using lasers it reaches the one above the recipient’s destination, where the data would then be beamed down to the correct station using radio waves again.
Getting High Bandwidth and Half the Latency on Earth
The speed of light in a vacuum is ≈ 47% higher that in glass (fiber cables). In the Mark Handley paper, charts show 36 ms latency for some routing for SpaceX Starlink network. Starlink would be almost twice as fast as communication on earth. There is 76 ms latency on earth.
Modification to the Plan for Phase 1a
There are currently 4,857 satellites in orbit of Earth. The original SpaceX plan would nearly triple this number but the current plan would double it.
According to the SpaceX FCC StarLink filing, the plan was to initially deploy 4425 satellites to orbits of between 1100 and 1300 km (680 and 800 mi). SpaceX has since indicated that they will be deploying their first 1600 satellites to an altitude of 550 kilometers (340 mi) to avoid adding to the space debris problem.
Brian Wang is a prolific business-oriented writer of emerging and disruptive technologies. He is known for insightful articles that combine business and technical analysis that catches the attention of the general public and is also useful for those in the industries. He is the sole author and writer of nextbigfuture.com, the top online science blog. He is also involved in angel investing and raising funds for breakthrough technology startup companies.
He gave the recent keynote presentation at Monte Jade event with a talk entitled the Future for You. He gave an annual update on molecular nanotechnology at Singularity University on nanotechnology, gave a TEDX talk on energy, and advises USC ASTE 527 (advanced space projects program). He has been interviewed for radio, professional organizations. podcasts and corporate events. He was recently interviewed by the radio program Steel on Steel on satellites and high altitude balloons that will track all movement in many parts of the USA.
He fundraises for various high impact technology companies and has worked in computer technology, insurance, healthcare and with corporate finance.
He has substantial familiarity with a broad range of breakthrough technologies like age reversal and antiaging, quantum computers, artificial intelligence, ocean tech, agtech, nuclear fission, advanced nuclear fission, space propulsion, satellites, imaging, molecular nanotechnology, biotechnology, medicine, blockchain, crypto and many other areas.