After the successful launch of Elon Musk’s mammoth space mission, Starlink last week, the company has unveiled a brand new website with more details on the Starlink commercial satellite internet service.
Starlink sent 60 communications satellites to the orbit which will eventually be part of a single constellation providing high speed internet to the globe. SpaceX has plans to deploy nearly 12,000 satellites in three orbital shells by the mid-2020s, initially placing approximately 1600 in a 550-kilometer (340 mi)-altitude area.
The new website gives a few glimpses of how Starlink’s plan looks like such as including the CG representation of how the satellites will work. These satellites will move along their orbits simultaneously, providing internet in a given area. They have also revealed more intricacies about the satellites.
Flat Panel Antennas
In each satellite, the signal is transmitted and received by four high-throughput phased array radio antennas. These antennas have a flat panel design and can transmit in multiple directions and frequencies.
Ion Propulsion system and solar array
Each satellite carries a krypton ion propulsion system. These systems enable satellites to orbit raise, maneuver in space, and deorbit. There is also a singular solar array, singe for simplifying the system. Ion thrusters provide a more fuel-efficient form of propulsion than conventional liquid propellants. It uses Krypton, which is less expensive than xenon but offers lower thrust efficiency.
Star Tracker and Autonomous collision avoidance system
Star Tracker is Space X’s inbuilt sensors, that can tell each satellite’s output for precise broadband throughput placement and tracking. The collision avoidance system uses inputs from the U.S. Department of Defense debris tracking system, reducing human error with a more reliable approach. Through this data it can perform maneuvers to avoid collision with space debris and other spacecrafts. Per Techcrunch, who interviewed a SpaceX representative, “the debris tracker hooks into the Air Force’s Combined Space Operations Center, where trajectories of all known space debris are tracked. These trajectories are checked against those of the satellites, and if a possible collision is detected the course changes are made, well ahead of time.”
More information on Starlink (such as the cost of the project, what ground stations look like, etc) is yet unknown. Till that time, keep an eye on the Starlink’s website and this space for new updates.