on Wednesday evening, just a few days after the launch of the first space astronauts NASA, SpaceX has launched and orbited the seventh batch of satellites space Internet Starlink.
Now in earth orbit are derived in a total of 480 satellites (although some of them are experimental). At SpaceX hope to the end of the year to put into orbit some 800 spacecraft.
According to company founder Elon musk, over time, expanded to tens of thousands of satellites, the global income from the project may reach $ 50 billion a year.
But in order for that vision had been fulfilled, SpaceX will first need to produce a device for receiving space of the Internet, which can autonomously connect the caller to the satellites, and which should not be too expensive to create, setup or maintenance.
Musk recently said that this is the most significant obstacle to Starlink, which must be overcome before SpaceX will be able to create a successful business providing Internet service.
“I think the biggest challenge will be to release affordable the user terminal. To address this problem, we will take a few years,” Musk said in comments to Aviation Week.
the Starlink System according to the plans aims to provide Internet access to users throughout the world due to the deployment in earth orbit of a large number of small machines (up to 500 kg). It is assumed that the communication system is everywhere, including remote and sparsely populated areas, will provide broadband access to the Internet at speeds of 1 Gigabit per second, which corresponds to the 5G standard. SpaceX has estimated the cost of the project at $10 billion, but experts believe this figure too low.
Elon Musk reported that to ensure a minimum coverage you will need at least six launches with 60 satellites, i.e. 360 machines, but for the average – 12 launches, which will allow to create a group of devices 720. “In order to keep the system economically viable, the orbit must be launched over 1000 satellites. If we take into orbit a lot more satellites, then it means that the system is in high demand,” said Musk in an interview with Business Insider may 15, 2019, on the eve of the first launch of Starlink, which was sent to orbit the batch of 60 experimental satellites.
Musk told how it will look in the device with which people will have access to the Internet of the future. In his Twitter he wrote earlier that the terminal Starlink similar to “slim round UFO on a stick.” According to the entrepreneur, the optimal tilt angle, the tool will pick himself. The user will only have to turn on the terminal in the socket and guide to heaven. To switch between satellites the device will also be himself.
Devices that use transistors for fast tracking and communicating with satellites within a field of view required to operate Starlink, as the spacecraft is moving quickly overhead. Physical directional antennas, such as those that are used for guidance on a stationary satellite would be insufficient.
In February 2018, SpaceX filed a patent for “distributed system and method phase shifts”. The patent is still pending, so neither the US Patent office or the world intellectual property organization had not yet issued SpaceX a patent.
Industry analysts say that such devices today are about 10 times more expensive than the price in hopes of Musk. The Director-General also concerned about how long such devices can be in use without maintenance or replacement, as maintenance requirements will increase their costs.
Musk also knows that the path to high speed satellite Internet mcan result in bankruptcy. A recent example is the OneWeb — a potential competitor that also launched thousands of satellites, but in March, has declared bankruptcy. Most famous, however, was Iridium constellation of 66 satellites, which was to create a global wireless network for data transmission.
Motorola has invested in the project in 1990-ies about $ 5 billion ($6 billion adjusted for inflation). But soon after the system of satellites around the Earth, there was a sharp rise in price of services and the influx of new subscribers has stopped.
If SpaceX can reduce the cost of user terminals, it is likely that you will be able to avoid these obstacles to success. Starlink also can easily surpass the planned Jeff Bezosa network satellite Internet Project Kuiper.
Musk, in any case, confident in the success of the project: “the Secret of success of SpaceX is that over Starlink has the best team of engineers. I think we have a strategy where success is one of the possible results.”