SpaceX Successfully Launches Two Test Sats for Starlink Internet Service

DooKey

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Apr 25, 2001
Messages
10,448
SpaceX strikes again and successfully launches a Paz satellite for a Spanish operator into orbit. However, SpaceX decided they were also going to launch two test sats into orbit for another Elon Musk venture called Starlink. Starlink is a satellite based internet service that he hopes will bring service to people all over the world. Also, in another first for SpaceX they tried to use a drone ship to catch the fairing from the rocket, but missed it by a few hundred meters. The rocket fairing costs $6M per launch so it makes sense to try and reuse that has well to further drive down launch costs. I bet they catch it next time.

The two experimental craft will help get SpaceX's Starlink satellite-internet constellation off the ground. If everything works out, this meganetwork, which company founder and CEO Elon Musk first announced in 2015, will eventually consist of thousands of satellites. Together, these spacecraft will provide low-cost internet to people around the world, with services beginning in 2020, on at least a limited basis, SpaceX has said.
 
D

Deleted member 88301

Guest
I'm really kind of excited about what they have done, and what they are doing. That's really a big thumbs-up to them from an extremely cynical dude.

But the internet stuff; won't the latency be a problem? I doubt that Elon Musk is too worried about internet gaming.

Just curious.


PS: Maybe many millions, or a few billion years from now, some offworld civilization might find the Stellar Tesla. Imagine the WTF moments that they would share. Imagine ours if it were in reverse.
 

EchtoGammut

2[H]4U
Joined
May 7, 2007
Messages
3,293
Regarding the latency, these satellites operate in a much lower orbit than typically used by satellites (VLEO V-band low-Earth orbit). Which means they must launch a lot more satellite in order to cover use zones (something like 12000 total). So they expect to have a sub 25ms latency.
 

DeathFromBelow

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jul 15, 2005
Messages
7,316
Has SpaceX already surpassed NASA?

Depends on what you mean. NASA's SLS is larger and slowly moving along, but SpaceX has re-usability down and they're moving on to even larger rockets. I'm sure NASA could build a giant super-massive booster with enough funding, but with the low proposed Orion/SLS flight rate keeping manufacturing going will be very wasteful in comparison to SpaceX's smaller but reusable launchers. If SpaceX can get their BFR flying in the 2019/2020 timeframe like Musk has proposed I think NASA may be done with in-house rockets.
 

Twinsen

Weaksauce
Joined
May 29, 2008
Messages
119
Has SpaceX already surpassed NASA?
Yes, didn't even take them 10 years to do it either. SpaceX is much more viable compared to what NASA has done lately. I mean the most expensive parts are reusable. That's a HUGE leap on it's own. Can't wait to see what happens in the next 5-10 years, they basically revived the actual space race.

NASA just needs to figure out ion or EM drive propulsion so it only takes a few months to get to Mars then who knows what will happen from there.
 

travisty

Gawd
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Messages
815
Has SpaceX already surpassed NASA?

On the surface yes. If the thought is that it's a race between NASA and SpaceX, I think that is the wrong way to look at it.

Governments can fund endevours which are incredibly costly with no guarantee of (any) return on investment. The US and USSR governments took on the task of sending people to space and the moon. They succeeded. The heavy lifting is done, they got the groundwork built which allows others to expand from the expensive knowledge.

It took another 50 years for the technology to make it feasible for non-government entities to convince investors to support their companies - also very rich people to start the companies.

In this case, the US government did the heavy lifting which has allowed SpaceX to overtake and grow.

NASA is still important in funding joint ventures like the ISS (unless it's privatized) and science satellites/rovers on distant worlds/moons.
 

Chunder

Gawd
Joined
Dec 5, 2011
Messages
519
The billions in government money seems to be helping Elon take a lot of credit for someone elses resources and work. If only we spent this on NASA...
 

seanreisk

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Aug 29, 2011
Messages
1,711
The billions in government money seems to be helping Elon take a lot of credit for someone elses resources and work. If only we spent this on NASA...

Must ... not ... grab ... soap box. Help me.

Soap box .... is ... looming. Quick, someone tag in and take this one for me. I'm busy fighting my soap box, I'm laying on the floor with my feet up in the air, but it's trying to get under me. If it gets its hands on a spatula or something, well, we're doomed, because then I'll be forced to stand on it, and I'll write one of those awful, flatulent 2,000 word posts that zealots like to make. Fortunately, soap boxes have no hands, and I've already had my quota of forum arguments for today.


P.S. Sent from my 'Elon Musk Fan Boy' cell phone. I like Elon Musk better than the NRA likes Charlton Heston, and that's a hard ship, believe me.
 
Last edited:

seanreisk

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Aug 29, 2011
Messages
1,711
Why does it smell musky in here?

That's a great idea!!!!


elonchanel.jpg
 

Uvaman2

2[H]4U
Joined
Jan 4, 2016
Messages
3,143
Has SpaceX already surpassed NASA?
That's quite unfair.. the phrase sitting in the shoulders of giants comes to mind. Behind so many of private companies ' innovations' there is a gamut of government funds and or research ... This is true more often than not.
 

M76

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
12,273
This topic is another perfect example of cognitive dissonance.

The same people (I assume) who stick it up to the government at every opportunity saying that taxes are theft are defending a government agency, that made almost no effort to innovate in the past 25 years. Over a private company that all but revolutionized access to space in less than a decade.

Of course they didn't start from nothing, and it would have been stupid to do so. NASA carried the thorch then dropped it, after which spacex picked it up. Do you also only give credit to the first runner in olympic relay events?
 
D

Deleted member 243478

Guest
That's quite unfair.. the phrase sitting in the shoulders of giants comes to mind. Behind so many of private companies ' innovations' there is a gamut of government funds and or research ... This is true more often than not.

Yes Elons rocket designs were heavily based on the Saturn V including fuel cell designs but that is where it stops really. Elon has made reusability a reality and the space race something for our generation to embrace.

That us before we get to things like the BFR that surpass the Saturn V in capacity and reusability, the ultimate rocket.
 

fuzzylogik

Gawd
Joined
Aug 30, 2012
Messages
653
Very cool - and the fact that they're trying to reuse just about everything that is reusable... just awesome. makes me wonder if the only reason it hasn't been thought about before is because the tech wasn't there?
 
D

Deleted member 243478

Guest
Very cool - and the fact that they're trying to reuse just about everything that is reusable... just awesome. makes me wonder if the only reason it hasn't been thought about before is because the tech wasn't there?

The tech has been there for a long time, it just took someone with a vision and enough balls to sink tons of money with not much chance of success (at the time). Elon already had all the money he ever needed, he did it because it was his dream.

Hell SpaceX almost went under their 4th and final test was the one that succeeded. If it didn’t, that was the end of the bank roll.
 

fuzzylogik

Gawd
Joined
Aug 30, 2012
Messages
653
That's what I was figuring - you'd think that since a good 80-90% in the cost goes just in the launch (and I believe even more when it comes to the fuel as compared to the rest of the craft) trying to reuse the rocket would have been an idea from the start. but - well... at least we're trying it now lol.
 

sirmonkey1985

[H]ard|DCer of the Month - July 2010
Joined
Sep 13, 2008
Messages
22,230
That's what I was figuring - you'd think that since a good 80-90% in the cost goes just in the launch (and I believe even more when it comes to the fuel as compared to the rest of the craft) trying to reuse the rocket would have been an idea from the start. but - well... at least we're trying it now lol.
good in theory, very hard to execute.. not to mention stupid expensive to develope. the one thing everyone has learned with space flight is that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.. that's why the russians still use the same design from the 60's to put people into space even though they've messed with other designs to put satellites up(and failed miserably). it's the same reason that the delta rocket really hasn't changed since it's original design other than strapping more boosters to the outside of the same main rocket they've been using forever. spaceX on the other hand isn't living by that standard and hopefully changes it in the process.

btw the fuel is the cheapest part of the launch vehicle, anywhere from 600-900k dollars.
 

motomonkey

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jan 17, 2009
Messages
1,490
That's quite unfair.. the phrase sitting in the shoulders of giants comes to mind. Behind so many of private companies ' innovations' there is a gamut of government funds and or research ... This is true more often than not.


That's certainly true, but all the research in the world us useless unless someone makes use of it. And for whatever reason, politics, inept leadership, lack of funds or whatever, NASA has been increasingly irrelevant in managing its mandate. It's not helped that we as a country have had a terrible time assigning priorities and goals for NASA to pursue.
 

Uvaman2

2[H]4U
Joined
Jan 4, 2016
Messages
3,143
That's certainly true, but all the research in the world us useless unless someone makes use of it. And for whatever reason, politics, inept leadership, lack of funds or whatever, NASA has been increasingly irrelevant in managing its mandate. It's not helped that we as a country have had a terrible time assigning priorities and goals for NASA to pursue.
That's true, but that is a truth that doesn't eliminate the other. Very many, typically republican, want to eliminate from history the very real and very important role of government, either a direct role, or indirect by funding things no private company would venture in. This is political, but its disgusting and I am tired of it.
 

EchtoGammut

2[H]4U
Joined
May 7, 2007
Messages
3,293
I'm very curious what the lifespan of these satellites is going to be. I've been scraping some of their document filings and putting out feelers to people I know who work at the SpaceX facility designing this.

So, roughly 4000 satellites will be launched into the 1100-1300k (split the difference and call it 750 miles) LEO range. They will essentially act as the backhaul, handling data transfer between the 7000+ satellites that will be orbiting around 340k (211 miles) above earth. The backhaul satellites will probably be launched using the standard Falcon 9 rocket, attached to commissioned launches. I know these are small satellites (between 250-500lbs), but not how small. However attaching a couple to existing payloads isn't a big deal (relatively speaking). The data access nodes operating at VLEO might not be launched using Falcon 9s based on my back of the napkin calculations and estimates for how long a satellite of 350lbs could stay in orbit (without most of it's mass being propellent). Best case you're looking at about 10 years for the lifespan of each VLEO satellite, which means they would be decommissioning these about every 8 years. Even with the cost effectiveness of the Falcon 9, that is an insane number of launches.
 

IdiotInCharge

NVIDIA SHILL
Joined
Jun 13, 2003
Messages
14,679
Even with the cost effectiveness of the Falcon 9, that is an insane number of launches.

It is, but I don't see that as a problem- they now have a commercial model for building more Falcon 9 rockets. If we assume that basically everyone is going to be using and paying for this stuff, and they very likely will, SpaceX is very likely to get quite the revenue stream going.

[and by everyone I mean governments/militaries including highly encrypted secret-squirrel stuff to airlines and ships to rural providers to individuals, and I'm betting that Musk/SpaceX would be up for working to connect a lot of hard to connect places in the interiors of poorer continents- basically everywhere except North America and Europe]
 

EchtoGammut

2[H]4U
Joined
May 7, 2007
Messages
3,293
Assuming you can launch 1 rocket a week, 7000 (just the VLEO) / 16 (the max pie-in-the-sky number of satellites I can imagine in a payload) / 52 = 8.4 years (roughly about the time you will be decommissioning the first ones you launched). Yes, if you look at a $65/month average subscription x (the population of Earth) that is a very feasible ROI, but doesn't really strike me as the Elon way. Back in College I did a think tank project with NASA, where they brought students from different fields and gave them theoretical problems to solve. Interestingly, one of our theoretical solutions involved space guns, basically a lower velocity rail gain designed for launching satellites. We couldn't make the math and physics work for LEO, but VLEO was completely possible (just no use for it at the time). Since Elon nabbed the Falcon 9 model from NASA plans back in the 70s, I'm sure our stuff is file as well. My guess is we will be hearing about a new launch method from SpaceX in the near future.

I really hope Samsung (also launching a satellite internet platform), Amazon, Facebook and SpaceX get this all moving quickly, because I've been planning to retire on a blue water cruiser and I'd like to have internet access that didn't cost $5000 a month for DSL speeds.
 

fuzzylogik

Gawd
Joined
Aug 30, 2012
Messages
653
good in theory, very hard to execute.. not to mention stupid expensive to develope. the one thing everyone has learned with space flight is that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.. that's why the russians still use the same design from the 60's to put people into space even though they've messed with other designs to put satellites up(and failed miserably). it's the same reason that the delta rocket really hasn't changed since it's original design other than strapping more boosters to the outside of the same main rocket they've been using forever. spaceX on the other hand isn't living by that standard and hopefully changes it in the process.

btw the fuel is the cheapest part of the launch vehicle, anywhere from 600-900k dollars.

Yup - main thing with the fuel is just the amount (as it takes up the majority of the payload). Some 20 years ago when they were first really talking about building a space elevator using carbon nanotubes the idea was to eliminate the "problem" of just getting stuff into space. One thought was if anybody came up with an idea the reverses the ratio to payload/fuel (something around 90/10 or worse to ~10/90) you'd get rich quick lol. and that was well before we started the process of reusing stuff :)
 

travisty

Gawd
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Messages
815
That's certainly true, but all the research in the world us useless unless someone makes use of it. And for whatever reason, politics, inept leadership, lack of funds or whatever, NASA has been increasingly irrelevant in managing its mandate. It's not helped that we as a country have had a terrible time assigning priorities and goals for NASA to pursue.

The reason NASA has been so inept? Look at who makes the decisions for NASA: Congress.

When was the last time anything new/innovative/original come out of Congress?

The main funding is the new moon-going orion and altair (i think is the name) capsules. Everything else is an afterthought. JWST? Find some spare change that wasn't allocated for orion/altair.
 
Last edited:

workshop35

Gawd
Joined
Nov 24, 2013
Messages
688
Yes, didn't even take them 10 years to do it either. SpaceX is much more viable compared to what NASA has done lately. I mean the most expensive parts are reusable. That's a HUGE leap on it's own. Can't wait to see what happens in the next 5-10 years, they basically revived the actual space race.
Not until they can match Atlas V's 100% success rate. I hope they can, but have a feeling their cost will be much closer to an Atlas vehicle if they want the same reliability.
 

S-F

Gawd
Joined
Aug 5, 2010
Messages
671
To everyone pissing on NASA:


They're doing a TON of stuff. Mars rover anyone? They're getting ready to launch another one in 2020. The amount of work being done relating to the Mars data is astounding. There are thousands of people all over the planet working on the data we have and figuring out what new data we should look for and they're doing it on NASA grants. Our understanding of planetary surfaces and extremophiles is increasing at a break neck pace and we have NASA to thank for it.
 

Twinsen

Weaksauce
Joined
May 29, 2008
Messages
119
To everyone pissing on NASA:


They're doing a TON of stuff. Mars rover anyone? They're getting ready to launch another one in 2020. The amount of work being done relating to the Mars data is astounding. There are thousands of people all over the planet working on the data we have and figuring out what new data we should look for and they're doing it on NASA grants. Our understanding of planetary surfaces and extremophiles is increasing at a break neck pace and we have NASA to thank for it.
NASA is definitely still doing great things from an observation and ground standpoint, don't get me wrong. But that's going to do shit-all if it costs $10-20 billion dollars to launch a small payload into space. We have to have privateers like SpaceX to continue research in reducing cost and increasing payload weights in order to get anything off of this planet. Their costs for a Falcon 9 launch is about $60 million. Then we can focus on building either a space station or moon base focused on staging for interplanetary missions before we can go outside of our solar system.
 

S-F

Gawd
Joined
Aug 5, 2010
Messages
671
NASA is definitely still doing great things from an observation and ground standpoint, don't get me wrong. But that's going to do shit-all if it costs $10-20 billion dollars to launch a small payload into space. We have to have privateers like SpaceX to continue research in reducing cost and increasing payload weights in order to get anything off of this planet. Their costs for a Falcon 9 launch is about $60 million. Then we can focus on building either a space station or moon base focused on staging for interplanetary missions before we can go outside of our solar system.


I hear you. I'm all for SpaceX and what they're doing. I was just trying to bring some reason to all the NASA haters.
 

TheSoldier

Limp Gawd
Joined
Dec 9, 2011
Messages
175
I will say this. Elon hasn’t put any humans up into orbit yet. This is all payloads and tests. He has done great and wonderful things thus far. I’m waiting to see actually human deliveries. As for those against NASA, we have to remember that it is a government agency. At the beginning of most agency creations, they are small and agile. As the agency continues its life, they get stuck with middle managers and generally avoid cutting personnel like the plague. Look at the CIA, that place used to have to be beacon of information, now it has been rendered almost useless. (Naturally I’m not privy to TS info, but their public track record hasn’t been hot in a while)
 
Top