Advanced Television

SpaceX wants Starlinks at lower orbits

April 24, 2020

By Chris Forrester

In a major change from its original plan, SpaceX is asking for FCC approval to operate more of its fleet of Starlink satellites at lower orbits.

The original plan was for 4400 Starlink craft to occupy orbits at about 1200 kms (ranging from 1100-1325 kms) high. The FCC has already approved 1600 satellites to work from 550 kms high.

SpaceX is now asking for the remaining 2800 of this first generati0on of 4400 satellites to also occupy these lower orbital positions.

This adjustment means lower latency – thus faster transmission times – between the satellites and ground stations. SpaceX is also planning to launch 7500 ‘second generation’ satellites using the V-band in ultra-low orbits of 335-346 kms high and the FCC has already approved that scheme.

There are potential problems with this latest FCC application given that the Starlink Ku-band transmission system could interfere with geostationary satellites already using the same frequencies.

Currently, and including the April 22nd launch, there are 412 operational Starlink satellites. Independent analysis shows that 3 have reentered the atmosphere and burnt up for one reason or another. The two original ‘TinTin’ test satellites have been retired and there are “apparently” 5 craft dead in orbit.

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