Over the years, Ilon Musk talked abouttheir plans to provide broadband Internet access to the world, using a constellation (or constellation) of satellites. The Starlink constellation was originally planned to be assembled from 12,000 low-cost satellites providing a terabit Internet connection. The first batch of these satellites will be launched in June 2019, and a full network will be deployed in the mid-2020s. Although the outline of the plan was known for a long time, Musk and the company that was founded by him to breathe life into space exploration were in no hurry to share details. Mark Hadley, a professor at University College London, has created a model that will show the world what Starlink will look like in the end.
Hadley, a professor of networking systems from the departmentcomputer science, used a three-dimensional game engine to create a model Starlink. He also included information from SpaceX's FCC public applications, and also relied on his knowledge of how computer networks function.
As Hadley explained in a recent interview in Digital Trends:
"I've already written network models before, but I usuallyI do not write them on the game engine. But in this case, the ability to visualize the movement of the constellation is crucial for understanding what is happening. Everything is much clearer when you see it. With a low level of detail of these simulations, the problem is mainly a problem of 3D geometry, and the game engine is very well suited to study such problems. ”
In November 2016, SpaceX submitted an application to the FCC forObtaining a license to manage a constellation of non-geostationary satellites (NGS). According to the application, the plan was to initially place 4,425 satellites in orbits from 1,100 to 1,300 km (680 and 800 miles). Since then, SpaceX has noted that it will deploy the first 1,600 satellites at an altitude of 550 kilometers in order to avoid problems with the accumulation of space debris.
According to the Internet index of objects launched inouter space (OSOidx), which is operated by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, currently has 4857 satellites orbiting the Earth. According to SpaceX’s original plan, Starlink deployments would almost triple that number, while the current plan should double it.
According to the Mask plan, Starlink will sendmessages through a series of ground stations that will transmit information via radio waves to the satellites above them. These satellites will then transmit messages using lasers, which will be sent to the location above the receiving point, and the data will then be transmitted down to the desired station using radio waves.
Given the ambitious nature of the project and itstechnology, Hadley was both intrigued and puzzled by how such a satellite network would work. For example, he wondered if thousands of satellites in low earth orbit could be connected to a system that would allow Internet traffic to choose the most direct paths. In addition, satellites should be organized in such a way as to minimize the probability of collisions.
Hadley is also interested in throughputthe ability of the network, in particular, how it could be compared with more traditional high-speed fiber technology. In theory, Starlink will allow you to send messages twice as fast as through optical fibers, because the signal speed when passing through glass is two times less than through space.
According to Hadley models, there is only one wayorganize this set of satellites to minimize collisions and maximize data transfer, so he is confident that his model is consistent with the planned SpaceX model. However, he also indicates that there will be a number of problems:
“In general, I think the concept is completely realizable. But complex, and SpaceX simultaneously rests on the verge of possible technologies on several fronts at the same time. Their use of phased-array wireless connections to control narrow beams should be flawless, to the point of the possible. The technology is well known, but its application in their conditions will be very difficult. The use of laser connections in free space between satellites is a relatively unknown technology. The European Space Agency has previously demonstrated the possibility of this, but SpaceX will have to track multiple targets simultaneously and achieve higher data transfer rates. I'm sure this can be done, but it may take some time to debug. ”
Hadley is not alone trying to realize the scaleand constellation services like Starlink. At a minimum, the cost of launching one satellite will cost tens of millions of dollars, and the cost of maintenance will be enormous per satellite. Each Starlink satellite will probably exist for several years in orbit, so SpaceX will have to launch new satellites regularly.
Hugh Lewis, a professor at Southampton University, said recently that "to service even 4,425 satellites, you will have to launch as many every five years."
But the existence of such a constellation is alsomeans global coverage. Access will be possible from remote villages, ships and other places where traditional infrastructure does not exist. The simulation also shows that there will be more satellites and better coverage at latitudes between 47 ° and 52 ° north and south, where by some strange coincidence some of the world's largest shopping centers are located.
Not only will SpaceX develop spacethe Internet. Telecommunications and aerospace giants like Samsung and Boeing also send satellites into orbit, while Google and Facebook are pursuing their own plans for using the space Internet. The Canadian telecommunications company Telesat is also developing a global constellation of Internet satellites, known as Telesat LEO.
These and other service providers will strivemeet the growing growth in high-speed Internet access, which is expected to double by 2020. In the same year, the number of devices connected to IP networks is expected to exceed three times the world's population - more than 20 billion devices.
Although the world will provide space to the Internetit is difficult, Musk never shied away from the challenge. In the end, Starlink is like any other enterprise Musk has taken on, such as developing commercially viable electric vehicles, reusable rockets and spacecraft capable of carrying passengers to Mars. Who knows? Perhaps Starlink will provide the Mask with an additional stream of income that will help finance the construction of the Martian base.
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