Starlink stuns NASA as competitors seek to protect FCC from nearly 30,000 satellites

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) Internet satellite constellation Starlink is facing criticism from multiple fronts over its plans to launch nearly 30,000 second-generation satellites. Starlink has launched nearly 2,000 spacecraft so far as it accelerates its launch to rapidly develop its constellation before larger competitors launch their satellites from Earth. On this front, the company has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to be allowed to use its newest rocket, known as the Starship, to launch the spacecraft.

The app, introduced last year, has faced criticism from both competitors and government agencies, with complaints ranging from the number of satellites Starlink aims to put into orbit, to revised parameters that some believe will harm other satellite networks, to concerns about collisions. orbital between the different constellations.

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The fight for second-generation satellites gained widespread media coverage earlier this month as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) expressed a desire to “work” with SpaceX in a letter submitted to the Federal Communications Commission via the National Communications Administration and Information (NTIA). ).

In her letter, NASA has expressed its concerns Regarding the huge number of satellites that SpaceX plans to put into orbit as part of the Starlink second generation upgrade. NASA’s strongest criticism targeted Starlink’s claim in its application that satellites would pose a “zero” risk of collision with large objects because they could maneuver themselves.

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The space agency explained that while this risk can be zero for large, single spacecraft, the fact that the Starlink constellation will house “tens” of thousands of satellites, it is unwise to assume that all equipment, software, and maneuvers (both manual and automated) are error-free. by “100%”. NASA added that while Starlink can expand existing collision avoidance mechanisms, this does not apply to the actions that SpaceX and other companies with large towers at the same altitudes must take to ensure that their own towers and spacecraft do not. collide with each other.

Because of these concerns, NASA has asked SpaceX to perform a risk assessment of the coupling events between the towers, and provide it with the results to ensure that NASA’s assets and operations remain unaffected.

An excerpt from a NASA letter submitted to the Federal Communications Commission showing how the interaction between the multiple constellations of satellites in Earth’s orbit remains understudied. Photo: SAT-AMD-20210818-00105

The size of the second-generation Starlink constellation has also been a topic in concerns raised by OneWeb, which believes that if the FCC grants the Starlink app to launch 29,988 satellitesthen the SpaceX subsidiary must be subject to several conditions that ensure that small towers, such as OneWeb, are not harmed. OneWeb argues The current rules for spectrum sharing between non-GSO operators are insufficient, which could lead to larger constellations using ambiguity to their advantage.

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He goes on to add that due to the greater number of satellites in orbit, a band-splitting event triggered by just two competing satellites from different companies will happen 100% of the time for the OneWeb satellites due to the fact that they will always be near the Starlink spacecraft. This would give Starlink access to more spectrum in the absence of a coordination agreement, OneWeb explains.

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Next, the company argues, the FCC should require approval of the second-generation Starlink spacecraft on SpaceX to avoid interference with other operators, and to ensure that all companies have adequate access to the resources.

The Starship’s 429-foot launch and stop tower can be seen during a SpaceX event earlier this month. Starship will be solely responsible for launching second-generation satellites into orbit according to SpaceX’s revised plans submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Photo: SpaceX / YouTube

OneWeb’s concerns remain muted when compared to old Starlink competitors from FCC, DISH Network and Michael Dell’s RS Access, LLC. Presenting a united front, both want the commission to explicitly reject second-generation satellite applications, with RS Access using a more moderate tone asking the FCC to “delay in part.”

Dish He reiterates his concerns about transmitting a satellite packet per frequency for every satellite (Nco) used to serve an area. The company had brought this up Previous FCC Action This saw Starlink accepts That Nco would be limited to 1, after which the Starlink license was modified. DISH’s recent concerns against Starlink again raise this issue, arguing that a large number of satellites will translate to an effective Nco of 6 due to negative transmissions, even if Starlink is limited to an Nco of 1.

It also increases the possibility of more than one beam access to the Starlink station, as the dish will be able to receive signals from both first and second generation satellites. DISH extends the “typical” Starlink scenario to one package per station to accuse the company of ambiguity for an “atypical” scenario.

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RS Access targets Starlink’s suggested minimum elevation angle of 5° to indicate that this is a nonsensical parameter”Mainly designed to block 12GHz panel rating. “The two are heading towards Another FCC action which aims to establish new rules for the 12 GHz frequency band used by both Starlink user stations and Multi Video Data Distribution Service (MVDDS) providers such as RS Access.

An image from the website of Cibola Wireless, the 5G-based MVDDS provider, showing the download speeds of its service. Photo: Cibola Wireless

Starlink’s response to the FCC’s request, submitted in January, shared key parameters of the second generation system. This made the company gamble its future Starship SpaceX rocketwhich is currently under development at the company’s facilities in Boca Chica, Texas and is awaiting environmental assessment by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA).

In this messageThe company shared optimism about launching new satellites as soon as next month, but that’s out of the question now because the FAA aims to complete its assessment by the end of March. It also shares other details such as the orbital age of the new satellites, its launch mechanism on the spacecraft, a higher orbit of the station, and an altitude of at least 5 degrees if the gate is located at higher latitudes.

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