SpaceX, a unit of Elon Musk, sent two test internet satellites into space. This means that Musk has joined a space race that has left many people dreamy of death.
Each company has burned billions of dollars in its dream of providing Internet services to the world through low-orbit satellite systems. Globalstar, a satellite carrier, and Iridium Communications, an Iridium satellite, are on the brink of bankruptcy. The dream is also underpinned by Microsoft founders Bill Gates, Boeing and other investors.
But the bleak reality did not block the progress of nearly two dozen companies. They are scrambling to raise funds to reach out to more Internet broadband users, including many who are beyond the reach of traditional mobile services.
Icon: Falcon heavy rocket
“There is not much more than hysteria and unrealistic expectations,” Roger Rusch, president of Palos Verdes, a California-based market consultancy, said in an interview.
SpaceX, one of Muskela’s space exploration technology companies, OneWeb of Greg Wyler, Boeing, and Telesat of Canada are demanding that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allow its use of satellites to provide Internet broadband services.
But Lusch said the technical challenges are daunting. Low-orbit satellite systems not only require complex software to operate satellites, but also require complex ground antenna systems to keep pace with satellites in the sky. Lush noted that operating expenditures will soon exceed the savings made using small satellite equipment.
Boeing is applying to the FCC for licenses for 60 satellites, and last year the FCC had licensed OneWeb to use the 720 satellite service licensed by the United Kingdom to the U.S. market.
SpaceX’s plan would require 4,425 satellites to be in orbit, and it will submit an application to the FCC for an additional 7,518 satellites. Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, expressed his support for the application, which makes it possible for SpaceX to license Internet broadband services through low-orbit satellite systems.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a coalition of U.S. scientists for anxiety, as of August last year, there were 1,738 orbiting satellites in orbit worldwide. The number of satellites in the SpaceX program will far exceed the number of satellites currently in operation in all countries.
SpaceX spokesman John Taylor said in an emailed statement that the two satellites launched last week are all test equipment. “Even though these satellites are on track as planned, we still have a lot of technical work to do in designing and deploying low-orbit satellite systems,” said Taylor, which will provide affordable high-speed Internet access in less populated remote areas Into service.
LEO satellites range from 50 to 1,200 miles (80 to 2,000 kilometers) above the Earth and run around Earth orbit every 90 minutes. Traditional communications satellites, about 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the ground, require one day to travel around the Earth’s orbit and stay relatively still with the Earth itself.
Low-orbit satellites offer additional advantages in sending and receiving wideband signals with less signal latency and no interruption in phone calls and streaming video. At present Universal Broadband service has become a more compelling target, said Satellite Industry Association President Tom Stroup, with a growing demand for satellite services.
Strlub said the new generation of satellites has become more compact and lightweight. “We’ve gone completely beyond the realm of experimentation,” Strrub pointed out. “We’re moving into the next generation of technology.”
Tim Farrar, an analyst at market research firm TMF Associates LLC, said in an interview that satellite capabilities are stronger, in part because they can use higher frequencies to transmit more data. He said tracking satellite ground terminal equipment is also getting smaller and lower cost more.
Of course, innovators also need to compete with existing satellite service providers such as Iridium. The company is using SpaceX’s repeated launch to upgrade its 66 low-orbit satellites. ViaSat Inc. announced on February 27 that it will provide broadband services over high-orbit satellites.
Rupert Pearce, chief executive of British satellite carrier Inmarsat Plc, said: “To me, a business case did not say ‘yes or no’ but ‘did my investment pay off?’ “The company was a survivor of the bubble burst in the satellite market in the 1990s. Inmarsat Plc currently offers broadband services through 13 high-orbit satellites.
“We have not seen a commercial case for LEO satellite networks,” Pierce said in an interview. This is “extremely challenging,” he said. Such satellites themselves require lower manufacturing costs and are difficult to achieve for those typical “highly customized” products. For Inmarsat Plc, they need to change their satellites every four to five years.
In addition, due to the inability of satellite services to connect directly to the interior, corresponding ground equipment presents many operational challenges. Low-orbit satellites are constantly moving; when a satellite slides below the horizon, another satellite needs to be immediately overhead, providing a seamless connection for users who are using the Internet, otherwise network services will be disrupted.
Of course, Musk will use SpaceX’s rocket launcher technology to reduce costs and reuse, rather than discard expensive rocket. When SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket plans to launch two broadband satellites on February 22, Musk said it would offer the lowest cost service if successful.
As early as 2015, when Musk announced the establishment of an engineering complex in Redmond, Washington, near Seattle, the Internet satellite program was revealed. Musk said that to build the entire system need to spend 10 billion to 15 billion US dollars, maybe more. However, once completed, it will generate significant revenue for SpaceX and provide financial support to immigrants Mars.
“What do we need to build a city on Mars in the long run? Well, one thing is for sure: a lot of money,” Musk said. “So we need something that generates a lot of money.”
OneWeb’s Weiler, meanwhile, is working with Airbus to develop satellites in France and Florida, and has attracted Qualcomm, Virgin Atlantic under Richard Branson and Japan’s Softbank Group, which is controlled by billionaire Son Masayoshi investment.
Intelsat SA, senior vice president of strategy and planning for satellite communications services provider Intelsat SA, said in an interview Intelsat SA plans to begin offering OneWeb services around 2020.
Vail pointed out that OneWeb will launch satellites this year, which is expected to launch every three to six weeks. He described it as a “mission” to make up for the digital divide by 2027.
Vincent Chan, a professor at MIT, said the project feasibility depends on how much people are willing to pay for the service.
“The trouble is that technically feasible does not mean that it is economically viable,” Chan said in an interview. “In Africa, who can afford the $ 100 a month service fee? Maybe $ 10 they can consider.” One dollar, they can certainly afford it. ”
However, Strup of the Satellite Industry Association believes that the company will certainly be pouring into the industry.
Strup said: “The eventual winner will be a consumer with multiple options for broadband satellite services.”