Showing posts with label Satellite. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Satellite. Show all posts

Oct 26, 2019

More Satellites

Last month I wrote about a handful of companies adding satellites for new internet and TV broadband services. LINK
Elon Musk is at it again. SpaceX has just filed for permission to add 30,000 more satellites to the 12,000 already approved. The company has deployed a few of the first 12,000 already and plans to have more deployed by the end of 2019.

There are strict international rules for deployment size, weight, height of orbit, wave length for transmitting signals, etc. Nonetheless, many "experts" (fearmongers) have complained that space is cluttered with too many satellites already and worry about accidents as they might bump into each other.
To add perspective, as of January 2019, about 8,950 satellites were placed into Earth orbit since 1957. About 5,000 of those were still in space, according to the European Space Agency. Only about 1,950 of those are still functioning.

As of 2019 here are 276 million cars and trucks on the roads in the United States alone. There are over 1.4 billion cars, trucks, and buses around the world. Neither figure includes off road vehicles. Since space is infinitely larger than earth, it seems unlikely mankind will be able to fill it up any time soon.

Sep 20, 2019

Satellite History

Satellites go way back, and were mostly used for specific purposes. The new LEO satellite constellations require thousands of satellites talking to each other and allowing internet anywhere, even the remotest parts of the planet.

1957—The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 1 and kicks off the space race.

1958—The US launches its first satellite, Explorer 1.

1958—The world’s first satellite designed for telecommunications, successfully transmits its first message.

1962—The Communications Satellite Act of 1962 gives the FCC regulatory power over communications satellites.

1962—Bell Labs launches Telstar 1, which successfully executes the first satellite television transmission.

1967—The Soviet Union creates, Orbita, the first television-satellite national network.

1972—Canada launches the first North American geostationary television satellite, Anik 1.

1975—RCA builds Satcom 1 for ABC, NBC, CBS, and later HBO® to begin broadcasting via satellite.

1976—Radio engineer Taylor Howard builds a homemade satellite dish and receiver that picks up both North American and Soviet satellite television signals. It showed in-home satellite television service could work.

1979—The Satellite Home Viewer Act lets US homeowners operate their own home satellite system.

1991—A group of cable TV providers, including Time Warner Cable, Cox, Comcast, and more, create the first direct broadcast satellite television service in the US, PRIMESTAR.

1993—Hughes Aircraft Co. applies for an FCC license to launch Spaceway, the first satellite designed to use the Ka-band frequencies making satellite a reasonable means for transmitting internet signals.

1996—Hughes Electronics buys PanAmSat, starts Hughes Network Systems, and begins offering consumer satellite services.

2003—News Corp buys DIRECTV, Hughes Network Systems, and others to form the DIRECTV Group.

2017—Viasat launches Viasat 2, which delivers the fastest residential satellite internet in the US to date.

Between 5G communications, ATSC3 over the air TV, and low earth satellites, pulling multiple millions of miles of physical cables around the country and the world may become a thing of the past, but it will not happen this year or next.

Sep 6, 2019

LEO and the Internet

Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites are much smaller and orbit closer to Earth than traditional satellites. The lower orbit dramatically reduces the time lag that usually comes with satellite broadband internet. The purpose of these satellites is to blanket the earth and provide wireless internet service everywhere.
Elon Musk's SpaceX has plans to launch as many as 12,000 satellites as part of its Starlink constellation. Each Starlink satellite weighs about 500 pounds (227 kilograms) and is about the size of an office desk. They will deploy into orbit about 273 miles (440 kilometers) up. After the first successful launch, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved Starlink’s formal request to offer broadband service. That service will take a few years to get enough satellites in place for a viable network. Starlink’s ultimate goal is to launch 4,425 satellites by 2024, but it will likely start offering service before then.
Amazon plans to launch a constellation of 3,236 satellites into low Earth orbit in order to provide internet to “unserved and underserved communities around the world.” Amazon confirmed that Kuiper Systems is one of its projects.
Telesat successfully launched a test LEO satellite in January 2018. Telesat announced during July 2019 that it had partnered with the Government of Canada in a mission to provide affordable high-speed Internet connectivity across rural and remote areas of Canada through the development of Telesat's LEO Satellite Constellation. Blue Origin will launch the next Telesat LEO satellites using its New Glenn rocket, which is currently under construction. Telesat plans to launch 120 LEO satellites by 2021, all with Blue Origin.
OneWeb has an initial 600-satellite constellation currently being built out to provide global satellite Internet broadband services beginning in 2021. The first six satellites of the constellation were launched in February 2019 and plans to launch 900 LEO satellites by the end of 2019 using Virgin Orbit and Blue Origin. OneWeb is considering nearly quadrupling the size of the satellite constellation over time by adding 1,972 additional satellites.
Jeff Bezos’s rocket company, Blue Origin, is not building a satellite network, but is building reusable spacecrafts to launch satellites for a variety of companies. Telesat, the largest satellite internet provider in Canada, is one such company.
Loon, started by Google and now run by parent company Alphabet, is slightly different from the other companies. It is not building a satellite constellation, but it is using similar concepts. Instead of an orbiting network in space, Loon uses weather balloons to float transmitters high in the atmosphere, essentially creating a floating network in the sky.
Facebook, filed a request with the federal government to fly a single experimental satellite in low orbit. It has not committed to deploy a full-fledged network or revealed much about its strategy. Other smaller companies with smaller wallets have also begun to join the race.

All will also require a network of Earth stations for the satellites to communicate with. There is much competition, many dollars to spend, and much work to do before we see the results in our living rooms.

Apr 10, 2015

Satellite Orbits

The reason we do not hear about satellites bumping into each other is because they each have their own protected orbit, kind of like a one lane highway. Orbits aren't patented, but “useful systems which incorporate particular orbits, such as technological solutions for providing telecommunications which utilize equipment in those orbits, are patent-eligible.”

So while a company couldn't attempt to patent a specific set of gravitational dynamics, it could exert control over an orbit by patenting the specific set of innovations needed to keep a satellite in that orbit.

US Patent No. 5,410,728, was issued to Motorola, and outlines how a formation of several satellites can optimize cellular coverage. The satellite orbit is not subject to this patent, but the process of deploying them into those orbits for some use as telecommunications is patented.

Incidentally, Sci-Fi author Arthur C. Clarke wrote about patenting orbits way back in 1945. The geostationary orbit he proposed that year is now home to hundreds of satellites, and has been officially designated the Clarke orbit by the International Astronomical Union.

Dec 2, 2011


If you have about ten minutes to waste, this site shows what can be seen on earth from Google earth satellite. LINK Amazing and quick paced. It is also scary with the level of detail to show someone laying out in their yard. Fascinating pictures of our earth from space. The Singularity web site occupies way too much of my time.