The mortal danger Starlink poses to space travel.

Justin Swanton

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I came across this video on the Common Sense Skeptic channel that tears Starlink to shreds: Starlink cannot offer a service superior to anything currently in existence, it is far more expensive than other internet options and is unaffordable by most of the planet, and it enormously increases the chances of a Kessler Syndrome event - satellite collisions creating debris that causes other collisions in a cascading crescendo that destroys everything in orbit and makes future launches into orbit impossible (the movie Gravity gives nice visuals of this event).

Anyone here with additional/updated data on the problems of Starlink?

The same channel also looks at Starship and Musk's plans to colonise Mars. It summarises nicely what I already thought of Musk's projects. My own feeling is that he will eventually crash and crash hard.
 

CupofJoe

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I will freely admit from what little I know of Mr Musk, I feel that he is a man-baby with a multi-billion bank balance.
All I hear of him is when he does something outrageous or unexpected. He seems to act first and then [maybe] think about it.
That said, I am all for "disruptors" breaking the mould to do what is said that could not be done.
Electric cars have got much better, Space launches have got cheaper and more sustainable.
But too many of the projects around now seem to be more vanity projects driven by ego. But they may do some good.
I cannot see how Tesla as a car company is worth more than just about any other car company... Now.
But if the likes of Ford are still wedded to producing giant SUVs and enormous Pickup trucks, instead of lighter electric vehicles, who knows what the world will look like in 10 years.
 

Fiberglass Cyborg

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The combination of Starlink and recent anti-satellite weapons tests is worrying. Kessler Syndrome looks more like a "when" than an "if" right now. Beginning to think we urgently need a ground-based alternative to GPS....
 

Biskit

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I must be one of the few people to have a road atlas in my car.
I have one of those.

I mostly rely on a sophisticated navigation system called Biskitetta. However, I do have to read the map myself if the Biskitetta is not there.
 

Mon0Zer0

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Starlink cannot offer a service superior to anything currently in existence, it is far more expensive than other internet options and is unaffordable by most of the planet,

It depends where you live. Starlink isn't intended for people who have access to cable internet, but people with poor internet infrastructure, low speeds or dial up internet, or are nomadic, or want to bypass regional censorship. It has a use case. Speeds over 100mbps are higher than speeds from any local cable providers in my area, so even from that perspective it's better. I imagine it has a relatively small, but wealthy customer base for whom the cost is nothing.

and it enormously increases the chances of a Kessler Syndrome event - satellite collisions creating debris that causes other collisions in a cascading crescendo that destroys everything in orbit and makes future launches into orbit impossible (the movie Gravity gives nice visuals of this event).

Space above our planet is huge. There are currently 3,000 satellites (out of 8,000 total man made objects) orbiting earth, above 196,900,000 square miles of earth's surface (more if you take into account height). That's one satellite per 65,633 square miles (roughly the size of Oklahoma) - assuming they're travelling at the same height - which is unlikely. The biggest satellite, GOES-R is roughly the size of a pickup truck. The chances of collision are extremely remote at present.

Chris Hadfield is very critical of Gravity:


Anyone here with additional/updated data on the problems of Starlink?

The same channel also looks at Starship and Musk's plans to colonise Mars. It summarises nicely what I already thought of Musk's projects. My own feeling is that he will eventually crash and crash hard.

He most likely will, going to Mars will take incredible engineering and co-operation with space agencies internationally - but at least he's doing something and driving the technology forward. I don't even think going to Mars is that good an idea. Venus seems a better destination for exploration, imho.

His commissioning of work on reusable rockets, the raptor engine and falcon heavy have revolutionised space travel. Those are enormous successes that, whilst not attributable to him directly, simply would not have existed at this moment in time without his drive and vision.

People say Musk is a fraud because he doesn't invent anything personally or receives investment from the Government. They view him as a con man or a flim flam artist, but Musk's skill is his ability to mobilise people and capital in service of ground breaking technologies and to promote adoption amongst consumers.
 

RJM Corbet

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Space above our planet is huge. There are currently 3,000 satellites (out of 8,000 total man made objects) orbiting earth, above 196,900,000 square miles of earth's surface (more if you take into account height). That's one satellite per 65,633 square miles (roughly the size of Oklahoma) - assuming they're travelling at the same height - which is unlikely. The biggest satellite, GOES-R is roughly the size of a pickup truck. The chances of collision are extremely remote at present.
Thanks for explaining. I think this is forgotten, when we see scary pics like this one. It's not representative. There's still no excuse to create more though, without good reason?

460697main_OrbitalDebris1-xltn.jpg


I have gained a lot of respect for Musk in the last couple of years. The world needs people like him. imo
 

Justin Swanton

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It depends where you live. Starlink isn't intended for people who have access to cable internet, but people with poor internet infrastructure, low speeds or dial up internet, or are nomadic, or want to bypass regional censorship. It has a use case. Speeds over 100mbps are higher than speeds from any local cable providers in my area, so even from that perspective it's better. I imagine it has a relatively small, but wealthy customer base for whom the cost is nothing.

Starlink's download speed is 61mbps at best and can be as low as 12mbps in Seattle.

speed test.jpg


This is fine for gaming (but not fast reflex gaming) and video conferencing for one user, but not more than one. Viasat offers comparable download and upload speeds whilst HuguesNet offers 25mbps download speed (I don't know what their upload speed is). The latter two satellite services have free startup (costs you $500 with Starlink) and their monthly payments are substantially cheaper: $30 and $60 vs Starlink's $100. Starlink's unique advantage is that it has little gaming lag as its satellites are close to the Earth whereas the satellites of the other two companies are in geostationary orbit, meaning a noticeable delay in transmission of data via satellite from one computer to another, anathema for gamers. But unless they live in really remote areas, gamers can hook up to cable internet with data transfer speeds more than ten times that of Starlink.

Poor internet structure usually means a poorer area or country and that case users will either suffer the limitations of their cable network or jump on the other two satellite networks as they are substantially cheaper - with the exception of a few wealthier kids who want to play online.

Space above our planet is huge. There are currently 3,000 satellites (out of 8,000 total man made objects) orbiting earth, above 196,900,000 square miles of earth's surface (more if you take into account height). That's one satellite per 65,633 square miles (roughly the size of Oklahoma) - assuming they're travelling at the same height - which is unlikely. The biggest satellite, GOES-R is roughly the size of a pickup truck. The chances of collision are extremely remote at present.

Surface area is irrelevant. What matters is orbital paths. The Chinese space station has already had to execute evasive manoeuvres twice to avoid starlink satellites. Most satellites are in LEO, in a cross section 1500km deep. There are currently over 2000 satellites plus 1700 starlink satellites orbiting in that cross section. Musk intends to add another 40,300 satellites to complete the Starlink network.

All satellite orbits intersect, twice, so that means a total of 44,000 intersecting satellite orbits in a band 1500 km deep. That's 30 satellites per kilometer which equals one satellite every 33 metres. That's not dangerous?

Yes, I know that Starlink satellites play follow-my-leader in groups in the same orbit, but IMHO that doesn't eliminate the danger of collisions. Orbital intersections still happen frequently with many satellites involved in the same intersecting paths, and keeping satellites precisely positioned in their place in the same orbit as well as keeping that orbit at the same altitude isn't something I can see happening over a long period of time. BTW the Kessler Syndrome has already begun: the ISS has been hit by orbital debris more than once. Over time there will be a steadily growing amount of orbital debris with more collisions producing more debris and so on until it probably cascades out of control, unless something can be done to collect that debris.
 
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Mon0Zer0

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Starlink's download speed is 61mbps at best and can be as low as 12mbps in Seattle.

I've seen reports of 100. But still 61 is better than my local best of 50 and I live in a reasonable sized city in the UK.

Poor internet structure usually means a poorer area or country and that case users will either suffer the limitations of their cable network or jump on the other two satellite networks as they are substantially cheaper - with the exception of a few wealthier kids who want to play online.

There are still rural places in the US on dial up.

I think Starlink is really for wealthy people in their 500,000$ RV's, off gridders, scientists on location and rich people in poorer countries that want a reliable connection, not the guy who wants to play team fortress.

Surface area is irrelevant. What matters is orbital paths.

Sure, which is a matter of communication and organisation but the idea that space is full is ridiculous.
 

RJM Corbet

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I believe everything Musk is doing is practice for colonizing Mars and a comm satellite web (on Mars) is an essential part of that plan? He's fixated on Mars. He says he wants to die on Mars, though preferably not on impact. He's quite a weird guy.
 
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Robert Zwilling

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40 of 49 of the latest batch of launched Starlink satellites will fallback to earth and burn up. They couldn't get into orbit because of increased drag caused by a geomagnetic storm. Stronger than normal solar winds got caught up in Earth's magnetic field which heated up that part of space. The increased heat put drag on the satellites, which ultimately slowed them down. The effort to save the satellites by making them fly edgewise to reduce the drag only put them into a lower orbit they couldn't get out of.

Satellites orbiting below 620 miles can lose as much as 18 miles of altitude during interactions with strong solar winds. The Starlink system is only 340 miles above Earth. The question becomes if a big enough solar wind blows through the Starlink formation will it be able to retain 100 percent operational functionality.

Electrical charges can also build up on the surface of the satellites during interactions with solar storms. How much fuel does each satellite carry for correcting altitude loss or are they considered to be totally disposable products, replace/don't fix.

One reason the low orbit was picked was to create a method of disposing of the satellites without creating space junk by having the Earth's atmosphere burn them up after they were no longer useful, which is apparently only a few years.
 

Omits

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Talking about down and upload speeds. Is this measured across the whole network. I am wondering if the whole internet will slow down in the LAN due to increasing demand as we move forward during the 20s and I don't think there is any solution with faster electronics on the way. I am in a village in the UK and over that last few years internet speed is worse. Also the demand by apps on the local processor is also increasing. Interested to know what others think.
 

Robert Zwilling

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A news report is circulating about a letter written on behalf of NASA about concerns over the deployment of an additional 30,000 satellites by Musk. The five-page letter was submitted to the Federal Communications Commission Feb. 8 on NASA’s behalf by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, along with a separate one-page letter from the National Science Foundation. There is nothing in the NASA web site about this. I guess NASA is between a rock and a hard place. They want commercial space flight to advance rapidly, so they approve of the quick approval of the Starship, and other space vehicles. The downside is that the amount of future space junk being hauled into space will rapidly increase.

Apparently the FCC is the agency that okays the additional deployment. The FCC may be getting in over its head as it does not seem to have foreseen the space junk problem nor has it any plans on how to fix the situation. It only keeps giving approval for more and more space junk to be launched. A number of companies all have plans to launch mass numbers of satellites. It should be a real mess.

The letter states that the amount of low orbit items that needs to be tracked will be increased 5 fold and double the total amount of items already being monitored. While the space station(s) are not in this orbit, everything has to fly through this zone to get to higher orbits. SpaceX has publicly stated that there would zero risk of accidents because the satellites have self driving software. Which is total rubbish, that is stock boosting talk, nothing has zero risk. Telsa's self driving cars certainly don't have a perfect track record, why would the satellites. Losing 40 of 49 satellites in the latest launch would seem to indicate that the self driving satellite software is not ready for prime time.

This is a slow burn resulting from a story first seen in January. SpaceX has revealed plans to commence regular launches of its new Starship spacecraft as soon as March 2022. The original plan to use the Falcon rockets will be scrapped and the Starships will carry the Starlinks into orbit starting in March. This what triggered SpaceX's request for permission to launch the additional 30,000 Starlinks above the original request of 12,000 Starlinks. It was known all along that the total number of Starlinks would be 42,000, but apparently it was not expected to be done so quickly.

Can armor be made to protect large objects in space from high speed projectiles?
 

Robert Zwilling

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Justin, I like Immortelle, good story. Easy to read screen on a laptop.

Do you have any scenarios for avoiding space junk?
 

Justin Swanton

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Justin, I like Immortelle, good story. Easy to read screen on a laptop.

Do you have any scenarios for avoiding space junk?
Thanks Robert. The next two chapters are up BTW. Re space junk one doesn't yet know how exactly bad it will be but in any case there's nothing we can do about it. If it gets out of control we'll have to wait several decades or more until all the junk has dropped out of orbit and burned up, though I imagine that one could always risk launching to a deep space orbit or beyond, hoping to avoid hitting anything on the way.
 
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