Internet access everywhere on the Earth by satellites, dream or reality?

Hello, you have certainly seen in recent months the launching of entire groups of satellites, several dozen sometimes, which are intended to cover almost the entire globe to spread Internet.

Do you think that this extremely expensive and time-consuming project will come to an end and will one day make possible to make Internet access by land useless?

Because if it will undoubtedly be technically possible to broadcast Internet from these satellites to large regions, the problem of uploading data remains and the systems that allow data to be sent directly to the satellite are rare and very expensive.

There are still many questions to be answered, for example, what area of the globe will be covered when will it be possible to access these systems? What is the planning for setting up those satellites? Is it a good idea to send hundreds of satellites into orbit in an already saturated Earth orbit?

In short, does this dream of permanent and global access to the Internet for everyone seems reasonable to you?

You prefer to use the Facebook group ?

#kuiper #SpaceX #oneweb #starlink #telesat

SpaceX issued a statement that it has lost contact with three of the 60 Starlink satellites launched last May. Despite this, this first launch is a success for the company, which wants to create a constellation of 12,000 artificial satellites in the long term.

SpaceX reported on the launch of 60 Starlink satellites a few weeks ago. It should be recalled that they were released on 23 May from the upper deck of the Falcon 9 into a low Earth orbit of 440 km. Unfortunately, not all of them have reached their target altitude of 550 km. In particular, Elon Musk’s company claimed to have lost contact with three nano-satellites. “Three satellites that initially communicated with the ground but are no longer in service will passively de-orbit,” said a spokesman.

The OneWeb project aims to provide very high-speed Internet access over a much wider area, thanks to the launch of a whole constellation of satellites. Six of them have already been sent last February, and have just started transmission tests. Conducted in partnership with Intellian and SatixFy, which deal respectively with antenna systems and modems, the tests consisted in broadcasting streaming in Full HD in the city of Seoul.

Of course, other tests, such as FaceTime calls, Google Map and other cloud services, were also performed. They were conclusive, as the latency obtained was 32 milliseconds on average. For comparison, ADSL has an average of 50 milliseconds. Geostationary satellites are limited to 600 milliseconds. It must be said that these are located 36,000 km above our planet, compared to 1200 km for the OneWeb network.

On the bandwidth side, it’s not bad either, since the maximum speed was 400 Mbps, almost forty times more than with ADSL 2. However, using this value can be misleading since it does not indicate a true average. But the results are encouraging.

A bit more details today about the SpaceX system.

The monthly subscription cost could be 80$ and could be available publicly summer 2020…

Understand Starlink

At that time, SpaceX began to win many contracts, but despite NASA’s support for several projects, the developments were expensive. The reuse of launchers is not yet a success, and the company is stalling on some future projects, such as Falcon Heavy, the Raptor engine or even the long-term vehicle project to get to Mars and colonize the red planet. In other words, Elon Musk knows that to continue to disrupt space, new sources of income will be needed. How about satellites? After all, SpaceX customers generate several hundred million dollars each year for some of them through their geostationary orbit units dedicated to telecommunications… The billionaire discusses it with a good knowledge, Greg Wyler who has already launched 12 satellites dedicated to Internet connectivity with his company, O3b (literally “Other 3 trillion” in reference to the 3 billion landowners who do not have access to the Internet). Would it be possible to do even more? To create a real constellation of satellites to connect the world?

Two operators are on a boat…

The two bosses think so, but they can’t agree. So behind the scenes, everyone spends the end of the year attracting investors, preparing requests for the frequencies of their potential satellites, and touring the manufacturers. On January 14, 2015, Greg Wyler opened the ball rolling and unveiled the OneWeb project with the support of Virgin and Qualcomm. 700 satellites in low orbit to connect the world, starting with the most remote areas. But two days later, thunderbolt. Even if some rumours had leaked, Elon Musk responded with his own project. In a conference to inaugurate a new SpaceX site in Seattle, he revealed that the building will house a new branch of the company, dedicated to satellite design and production, revealing “the desire to shake up this field as we have shaken up the launchers”. But above all, it unveils its own Internet connectivity project, with more than 4,000 satellites in low orbit. And to mention, on stage, the implementation of a real satellite assembly line in series, the administrative procedures already in place and a marketing plan. Starlink, which would not be called Starlink until two years later, was launched.

Dozens of satellites…

Exchanges of courtesies
After the thundering announcements of January 2015, the following three years saw a veritable “trench warfare” of mega-constellations, in which everything was allowed. OneWeb first tried to torpedo its opponent in court, without success. Then SpaceX tries to block its competitors by submitting myriad requests for frequency allocation and orbits to the competent authorities. The figure rises from 4,400 satellites to almost 12,000, spread over 340 km (V frequency band), 550 km and 1200 km altitude (Ku and Ka frequency bands). At SpaceX, which plans to use its own plant, and is forced to hire dozens of specialists in antennas, propulsion, network connectivity and other components, OneWeb is responding with an agreement with Airbus Defense and Space, which will design and produce the satellites from a new site in Florida. The two giants are slowly flipping their cards one after the other: after the first dates that Gwynne Shotwell (Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX) announces for launches on the Falcon 9 rocket, OneWeb signs for 21 Soyuz takeoffs with Arianespace.

One step forward, two steps back

In addition to this duel, the 2015-2018 period is not easy to negotiate. For SpaceX, it is necessary to manage the failures of its launchers in 2015 and 2016, a destroyed launch pad to be rebuilt, not to mention a drop in orders from the major telecommunications satellite operators. This is the paradox of Elon Musk’s business, he needs funds (at least $10 billion announced) to create his giant constellation… Even though the latter has added a layer to the crisis of confidence that the giants of the sector are going through when they buy launchers from it! Traditional" operators take time to observe the market response before investing in other satellites in geostationary positions (each unit can cost between $100 million and $750 million). Especially since these increasing super-constellations could disrupt their services by “cutting” the beams of their satellites. Complaints, complaints, disputes, technical difficulties, the context is not very good for SpaceX… Nor for OneWeb, which is struggling to find funds and has to endure delays. To make matters worse, other constellations have attracted the attention of investors (such as Telesat, and more recently Kuiper)

Tintin and Tintin

On February 22, 2018, two Starlink satellites were sent into orbit during a Falcon 9 takeoff. Test units, called Tintin A and B, for which SpaceX has only shared a few rare images, and which do not prefigure the final design. According to the company, the initial tests are going well, but the two satellites ask many questions: they will never reach the original altitude of 1,125 km they were supposed to climb, and according to the amateur radio community (who closely observed the prototypes), they did not emit much. A few months later, another surprising news, after a visit of the CEO to Seattle, some of Starlink’s managers were simply… fired. A second batch of experimental satellites is expected, but does not materialize in 2018. Blessed bread for opponents: on February 27, 2019, OneWeb sent 6 pre-series copies to the operational orbit of its constellation.

Satellite, krypton option

However, serial production at OneWeb has not yet started. What a surprise then when SpaceX announces and then sends 60 satellites into orbit during a single launch on May 24, 2019! True to their habits, SpaceX teams have created a surprising architecture. A Starlink satellite weighs about 225 kg, is equipped with flat antennas, and a single unfoldable solar panel. It communicates (for this first generation) in Ka and Ku band, and its propulsion is provided by small ionic krypton engines, a first. Indeed, many satellites (including those of Oneweb) use similar technology, but with Xenon… Which is 10 times more expensive. Representing a record 13.7 tonnes of payload under the Falcon 9 cap, Starlink satellites are stacked without ejection devices, and rest “simply” on top of each other. An economic, but surprising choice: when the whole cluster of satellites arrives in orbit, it slowly moves away, letting its 60 units move away from each other at low speed. The units are then activated one by one and begin their manoeuvres.

60… 59, 58, 57

Since May 24, the Starlink constellation has been undergoing tests. The design of the satellites is “not fixed”, says Elon Musk, since these first units do not have the full range of equipment expected in the long term, such as communication links between the various satellites to establish a “mesh” of the in-orbit network. Of the 60, only about 50 units are in orbit at 550 km altitude and active, but the first few months were rich in lessons before other units in the constellation were set up. On October 21, Elon Musk was surprised in public to have succeeded in sending a first tweet via Starlink… But other potential customers are also testing it: the US Air Force, through the DEUCSI program (Defense Experimentation Using the Commercial Space Internet) used Starlink in one of its aircraft, and would have been very impressed with the speed obtained. SpaceX has already won a “small” $23 million contract to let the defense test some communications with the device.

Artist’s view of a Starlink satellite

The next takeoff with a “batch” of 60 Starlink satellites is expected to take place on Monday, November 11 at around 4pm, and has been delayed since October without the company giving a specific reason (however this may be related to the launcher). A second takeoff in the service of the constellation could, according to Gwynne Shotwell, take place before the end of the year. A preview of 2020 and its potential… 24 Falcon 9 takeoffs in service of Starlink. The objective is clear, to put as many satellites as possible into orbit to obtain initial global coverage and start marketing its services before other competitors. Next year will therefore be decisive, and will show (or not) if Starlink can be convincing… While still restricted to a targeted audience: the global constellation and Internet operator services for the general public will have to wait.

A tight mesh

Of course, Starlink also generates a lot of concern. For potential debris in low orbit first: the two “working” orbits at 340 and 550 km altitude do not pose many problems in the event of a failure of one or more units, a drifting satellite of this size and mass being braked to the point of burning in the atmosphere in less than a year, but the possible 3,000 units in orbit at an altitude of more than 1,100 km will not have this chance (a satellite at 1,000 km altitude takes about 1,000 years to brake sufficiently to burn in the atmosphere without propulsion). There is also the problem of potential impacts in orbit with debris (or other satellites) due to sound orbits.

source: Clubic

Apple Inc. has a secret team working on satellite technology that the iPhone maker could use to beam internet services directly to devices, bypassing wireless networks, according to people familiar with the work.

The Cupertino, California-based iPhone maker has about a dozen engineers from the aerospace, satellite and antenna design industries working on the project with the goal of deploying their results within five years, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal company efforts. Work on the project is still early and could be abandoned, the people said, and a clear direction and use for satellites hasn’t been finalized. Still, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has shown interest in the project, indicating it’s a company priority.

Apple’s work on communications satellites and next-generation wireless technology means the aim is likely to beam data to a user’s device, potentially mitigating the dependence on wireless carriers, or for linking devices together without a traditional network. Apple could also be exploring satellites for more precise location tracking for its devices, enabling improved maps and new features.

from Bloomberg

Amazon Kuiper is the satellite constellation project of Jeff Bezos’ company. The company announced on December 18 the acquisition of two buildings, 20,000m² in total, where the Kuiper headquarters and the research and development centre for the future satellites will be located.

A plethoric competition

Amazon has decided to race the Internet from space. It joins OneWeb, whose constellation of satellites is due to be deployed in January, Google with its Loon project for an upper atmosphere balloon and last but not least Starlink from SpaceX, probably the most advanced of all. The first clusters of SpaceX satellites have been launched and the arrival of the Internet is expected in 2020 in North America. A competitive situation that seems almost absurd.

Amazon Kuiper has recruited “world-class experts who are committed to bridging the digital divide”. The first applications have been filed with the International Telecommunication Union and the U.S. Communications Commission. However, Amazon is behind schedule: no deployment schedule has been published.

As for Starlink, the Kuiper satellites will be at low altitude, as for Starlink the idea is to open up the deserts of the web, areas that still have difficult access to the Internet and as for Starlink the number of satellites planned is staggering.

SpaceX could send out 42,000 satellites with 3,200 satellites Kuiper is a small player, yet it is already 1,000 satellites more than the total number of active spacecraft above our heads. Knowing that 120 Starlink satellites are already enough to disrupt stargazing.

Elon Musk gives some details on how to connect to Starlink.
In order to connect to the future Starlink network, a person will first have to acquire a Starlink Terminal, a kind of router specially designed to interact with the satellite network. The boss of SpaceX explains that it comes in the form of a flat parabolic antenna: "a round, flat, thin flying saucer at the end of a stick. "The dish has “motors” that allow it to orient itself in the direction of the Starlink satellite network at any given time. To initiate the adjustment and therefore the connection, simply “plug in” and activate the automatic antenna orientation, "in any order. "Elon Musk specifies that “no special knowledge is required” to operate the system. In October 2019, he himself tested connecting his personal terminal to the Starlink Internet network to send a tweet. However, this new type of network is still far from being deployed on a large scale.

A U.S. federal agency may have broken the law when it licensed SpaceX to launch thousands of satellites, according to a soon-to-be-published article by a U.S. student. Disgruntled astronomers could potentially take legal action. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved SpaceX’s application to launch thousands of satellites into space in March 2018 - as part of the space company’s plan to create a mega-constellation of satellites to provide broadband Internet coverage to the entire Earth.

Elon Musk on Monday brushed aside astronomers’ concerns about his huge constellation of Starlink satellites. According to him, the line of spacecraft will have “not the slightest impact on astronomical discoveries”.

The Starlink project is expected to bring the Internet to many parts of the world from space. Some 300 satellites have already been placed in orbit, and that number is expected to increase rapidly, potentially to 42,000. The launch of the first 60 satellites in May 2019, forming a chain of 60 bright points in the sky, had caused great concern among astronomers.

A temporary and minimal problem

The Starlink network could cause visual pollution that will eventually spoil the telescope’s observations. “I’m confident that we will not cause any impact on astronomical discoveries, zero,” said Space X’s CEO. "We will take corrective action if it is above zero. »

According to him, the problem of visual pollution only arises when satellites gain altitude to get into orbit. Musk said SpaceX is working with the scientific community to reduce the brightness of the spacecraft.

When the investor leaves, OneWeb crashes ?

The crates are empty, it’s as simple as that. With 1.7 billion dollars in debt, OneWeb has not received the support of its main shareholder, the investment bank SoftBank, to go further. The company, which had launched in 2015 the “war of mega-constellations” with SpaceX and Starlink, went bankrupt in a particular context.

Heavily affected by the crisis linked to the COVID-19 epidemic, SoftBank has reduced its sail to refocus on less risky projects . OneWeb, which would have been “close to a deal” and would have needed several billion dollars more to complete its internet connectivity constellation of 648 low earth orbit satellites by 2021, finds itself without the means to continue. More than 500 employees have been sent home, with only a handful managing the 74 satellites already in orbit (68 of which are in transit).


The deployment of the Starlink satellite Internet network continues. 420 satellites are in space following the launch of a new series of 60 spacecraft this week. A favourable context which pushes Elon Musk to envisage opening the service in beta version within 3 months, before commercialization within 6 months.

A few weeks ago, the SpaceX boss promised that Starlink would be launched for “at least part of the United States territory” this year. This promise should therefore be honoured, even though the beta and initial commercialization phase will be reserved for the ‘high latitudes’. This is a vague definition which, according to Musk’s clarifications, includes both Germany and part of the United States.

Very soon after the first launches of the SpaceX constellation, astronomers reported that their observations had been disrupted by the passage of the satellites. It is worrisome when at present only 420 satellites are in orbit above our heads and that eventually there should be 42,000.

Summoned to intervene, Elon Musk, founder and general manager of SpaceX initially proposed to treat the reflective surface of his devices with a darkening element. A treatment that seems partly effective, but not totally satisfactory.

Another project was presented by Musk himself this week: the VisorSat approach. The principle is simple: a sunshield will prevent light from reaching the satellites’ most reflective antennas, the one that makes them visible to the naked eye at night.

A new part will be added to the satellites. During the flight, this room must be extended to block the light. Antennas will also be built in transparent materials to minimize reflections while respecting its objective of providing the earth with bandwidth.


Want to try out SpaceX’s satellite internet service? The company is gearing up to send email updates to interested customers, recruiting them to test it out.

The company’s website for Starlink has been updated with a new email newsletter, which promises to send out news and promotions regarding the satellite broadband network. After you sign up with an email address and zip code, SpaceX says it may send you future messages about the upcoming beta tests.


Will the post-Brexit UK practice industrial interventionism? While the British government traditionally avoids direct intervention in companies, it announced on Friday 3 July a strange takeover: it is buying 45% of OneWeb, a company that develops a network of low-orbit satellites, while Bharti Global, an Indian group that controls, among other things, the world’s third largest mobile phone provider, is also taking 45%. The remaining 10% remains in the hands of OneWeb’s current creditors. The transaction amounts to “more than 1 billion dollars” ('900 million). It is still subject to approval by the US legal authorities, as OneWeb has been under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since March.

OneWeb is a company that develops a network of satellites in low orbit (1,200 kilometres from the Earth), in order to serve as an Internet provider, particularly in remote areas. Its main competitor is Starlink, a company headed by Elon Musk. However, OneWeb has fallen behind: it has 74 satellites in orbit, while its competitor has more than 500. In March, it had to file for bankruptcy when Softbank, one of its creditors, refused to grant it new liquidity.


Amazon has received approval from the US authorities to deploy a constellation of 3,236 satellites in low earth orbit to provide broadband Internet access worldwide. The e-commerce giant will invest 10 billion dollars in this project, called Project Kuiper, he announced on Thursday 30 July, when he published very good quarterly results.

The project will first target the white zones of the United States, then worldwide, and could feed wireless and 5G networks. The project will primarily target homes, schools, hospitals, businesses and other organizations, and could restore telecommunications in the event of a natural disaster. Several companies have already positioned themselves in the niche market of internet from space.


In April, Elon Musk announced the launch of a private beta in three months, followed by a public beta in six months. As a result, some privileged people were able to experiment with the Internet via Starlink. Among them, anonymous sources tested Ookla’s famous Speedtest.

If the billionaire promises a downstream speed of 1 Gbit/s and a latency of less than 20 ms, for the time being, this is not the reality. As it stands, Starlink offers 60.24 Mbit/s downlink and 17.64 Mbit/s uplink in the best case scenario. Latency ranges from 31 to 94 ms. Of all the results on Reddit, the lowest values are 11.38 Mbit/s download and 4.58 Mbit/s upload.


Yesterday, Thursday, September 3, SpaceX successfully sent 60 new Starlink satellites into space. This low earth orbit constellation, whose goal is to provide very high-speed Internet access to individuals, now exceeds 700 craft. It should rapidly reach 1,600 devices for entry into service in early 2022.

The company took advantage of this 12th Starlink launch to give some results on the first performance tests. Currently, the service is in private beta and only employees can benefit from it. A public beta phase should start before the end of the year. Interested parties are invited to register online on the waiting list.

According to SpaceX, “the first results are good”. Starlink’s network is already exceeding 100 Mbps downstream and the latency is “super low”. “That’s enough to play the fastest online games and stream multiple HD movies simultaneously,” says Kate Tice, an engineer at SpaceX.

And that’s not all. The company also tested a laser link between two Starlink satellites for the first time.
“With these space lasers, the Starlink satellites were able to transfer hundreds of gigabytes of data per second. Once these space lasers are fully deployed, Starlink will be one of the fastest options available for transferring data around the world,” said Tice.

But these claims are to be taken with a grain of salt. According to ArsTechnica, anonymous individuals recently posted online performance tests of the Starlink network. Latency ranged from 20 to 75 ms and downstream rates from 30 to 60 Mbps. Last March, Elon Musk said his goal was to get below 20 ms latency.


After having signed a nice contract with the US Army, SpaceX is once again focusing on its many other projects, including Starlink. To date, 700 satellites have been launched to provide an excellent Internet connection to anyone on Earth. SpaceX’s ultimate goal is to create an artificial constellation of 42,000 satellites. Rest assured, you don’t need to reach that number of satellites to take advantage of the Starlink network.

Not before February 2021?

For once, Elon Musk seems to have been reasonable in his estimates. Last April, the CEO of SpaceX announced the opening of a private beta within 3 months, and a public beta within 6 months. 6 months later, the private beta has already been launched, and the public version would be about to arrive. Yesterday, the company added 60 new satellites to the constellation, so they are not yet fully connected to their peers. Once this milestone is reached, SpaceX will be able to give a date. According to Elon Musk’s tweet.

According to Jonathan McDowell, astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the public beta should not be available before February 18, 2021. The latter explains that SpaceX usually sends its satellites in groups of 60, divided into 3 groups of 20. Jonathan McDowell states: “The first group will reach the target height in about 45 days; the second and third after about 90 and 135 days”. So we will have to be patient to hope to be able to connect to the Starlink network. In addition, Elon Musk also said that the United States and Canada would be favoured to inaugurate the public beta. The program should arrive in Europe, therefore in France, in a few more months.


SpaceX is expanding the beta test of its Starlink satellite internet service, sending emails on Monday to people who expressed interest in signing up for the service.

Called the “Better Than Nothing Beta” test, according to multiple screenshots of the email seen by CNBC, initial Starlink service is priced at $99 a month — plus a $499 upfront cost to order the Starlink Kit. That kit includes a user terminal to connect to the satellites, a mounting tripod and a Wi-Fi router. There is also now a Starlink app listed by SpaceX on the Google Play and Apple iOS app stores.