SpaceX Seeks Approval for Up to 1 Million Earth Stations for Starlink Constellation

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has applied for permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate up to one million Earth stations to serve its Starlink constellation of 4,425 Ku- and Ka-band communications satellites it plans to begin launching later this year.

“These user terminals employ advanced phased-array beam-forming and digital processing technologies to make highly efficient use of Ku-band spectrum resources by supporting highly directive, steered antenna beams that track the system’s low-Earth orbit satellites,” SpaceX said in its application.

The Earth stations would be deployed in the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, “including areas underserved or currently unserved by existing networks,” the company wrote.

“As the Commission has recognized, many communities across the United States and the world still lack access to reliable broadband connectivity, preventing them from fully participating in economic, social, and civic activities,” the application stated.

“To help close this digital divide, SpaceX is designing, constructing, and deploying an innovative, cost-effective and spectrum-efficient satellite system capable of delivering robust broadband service to customers around the world. SpaceX has already secured U.S. authority for the space station components of its NGSO [non-geosynchronous orbit] system,” the document said.

  • Terry Stetler
  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Rumors swirling that some number of launches (up to 4 or so) might be added to the manifest to loft the first block of Starlink birds this year. This will also be where SpaceX demonstrates sub-month (if not sub-week) turnaround of Block 5 boosters.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Indeed, circular dependency is a beautiful thing. Like a free lunch to bootstrap the Startship program.

  • Terry Stetler

    Also; today Raptor hit 268.9 bar, exceeding RD-180,

    and

    Elon Musk ✔ @elonmusk
    This will sound implausible, but I think there’s a path to build Starship / Super Heavy for less than Falcon 9

    https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1094793664809689089

  • Robert G. Oler

    make it so number 1 🙂

  • Robert G. Oler

    sure make it so Number 1

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Hey, why would Boeing be fixing a non-broken airplane? Asking for a friend.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/boeing-and-regulators-delay-jetliner-fixes-prompted-by-lion-air-crash-11549821489

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Makes sense.

  • Saturn1300

    Space station components? He is going to build a space station? He did not say ISS. I don’t see why he would need anything from ISS.

  • Robert G. Oler

    because what Boeing is trying to do, is to come up with software that fixes pilot incompetence

  • ThomasLMatula

    And hundreds of thousands of Teslas worldwide to network using the Starlink. Yep, he might just beat the RLV trap.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Not surprised. He has the engine needed and the experience of the Falcon family to build on. But he is going to find he will need a better place to operate them from as the Cape’s ancient and limited infrastructure is already creating launch jams.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    It will be a long time, if ever, Teslas use Starlink as you would need to burry a pizza box sized phased array into the roof. First customers will be service providers doing backhaul. They can afford to walk the steeper part of the CPE cost curve. Then will be opened to fixed end users and only last to mobile vehicles.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    There is big blurry line between your characterization and human factors in cockpit and automation design, especially if training materials omitted pertinent information. But fanbois will be fanbois.

  • Robert G. Oler

    not really no. nothing was omitted. let me help. It is not possible for the average pilot to distinguish in the time alloted between a failure, in the B737 Max between speed trim and MCAS or a stab trim cutout switch or a stab motor or the autopilot stab guidance system. and it doesnt matter which one has failed

    the actions are the same for all.

    PF actions

    1. Disconnect autopilot/throttle,
    2. Stab trim cut out switches (both) off
    3 pull out trim handles on trim wheel,
    4. trim manually

    I dont care if they understood MCAS or what caused the runaway trim, by all accounts they never did those four things…which are the basis of the solution

    ie there is no other solution

    this has nothing to do with the automation or automated cockpits AS in the early B737/727 and 707 design there were similar problems due to switch defects

    at least two early B52’s were lost to incompetence in handling a stab trim runawaay which is not distinguisable from a MCAS failure

    sorry you are out of your depth here

  • ThomasLMatula

    Some one probably wrote “space based components” and the smart computer “corrected” it to “space station components”

  • ThomasLMatula

    You are forgeting how those Teslas are getting their software updates. It’s not on the road, its at home in their garages.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Na, just a WifI hotspot at that point, nothing unique. Yes there can be some bundling arrangement with car and home internet but that seems like a stretch.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    I love how the test pilot is arguing for the lack of belt AND suspenders here.

  • ThomasLMatula

    You mean like selling the Tesla owners solar panels so they are using clean energy for charging them up?

  • Robert G. Oler

    sorry that doesnt make any sense to me…I realize you dont know much technically but there are a lot of things in airplanes and other complex system operation that have the “same” fix …

    your reply seems incoherent

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Ha, I am not arguing against a common mitigation procedure for multiple issues, we deal with that all the time in my business.

    1) Pilot knowledge on the possible ways the system can operate equates to converging on faster situational awareness. Pointing out the augmentation to speed trim may have helped pilots arrive at situational awareness faster in this case.

    2) If the software knows the AoA is spurious (by definition one side is) that could be a cue to disable the automation in this particular case yes that may not apply to all cases where trim needs to be cut off but looks like it did in this case…belt and suspenders.

  • Robert G. Oler

    1) Pilot knowledge on the possible ways the system can operate “equates
    to converging on faster situational awareness. Pointing out the
    augmentation to speed trim may have helped pilots arrive at situational
    awareness faster in this case…

    there is no data to support that statement and indeed the data is all the other way

    It doesnt matter why the “trim” is running away…the pilots should not take a second to evaluate the “why” but in fact should simply go through the perscribed ckecklist for that action

    they dont have the knowledge to review the ancillarly data points because to impart that knowledge would bring them to test pilot level…and most dont have that capability nor is it economically viable

    “2) If the software knows the AoA is spurious (by definition one side is)
    that could be a cue to disable the automation in this particular case
    yes that may not apply to all cases where trim needs to be cut off but
    looks like it did in this case…belt and suspenders.

    these are called “comparator lights” they are right in front of the captain.

    I am sorry this painful with your lack of knowledge

    thisi s why you should not comment on this accident. the first item in the chcklist “autopilot/etc disonnect” is designed to do all of that. the second one “trim switches off”

    ends all other problems

    see what you dont know can kill you. and thats why I am a test pilot and you blog 🙂

  • duheagle

    Boca Chica is on the Gulf and Elon already has friends in the off-shore drilling services community – he’s leasing most of his SpaceX Navy from them. I’m sure “Here’s my situation; any ideas?” discussions have been underway for some time on the down-low. One reason Texans wear such big hats is to keep more stuff under them.

  • duheagle

    The only long-term fix for that is straight replacement of pilots with AI.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Funny stuff, straw man my argument then declare victory. Classic RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    no need to declare victory, it never was close for you 🙂 you simply dont know what you are talking about.

  • windbourne

    I would guess that they will keep doing more than 4. They have over 12,000 sats to put up there. In addition, the faster they can get a minimum of them up there that allows a region to start their internet, the better it will be for them.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Yea, it’s a balance. If you are putting up that many birds and an infant mortality issue sneaks in you’ve got problems. So best to put up the early batch is smaller numbers and eval for a while.