Elon Musk and Jeff BezosBillionairesThanks to the successful business ventures they have run in the world’s largest unrelated industries. But now, they are competing with each other for space outside the Earth’s atmosphere, deploying the respective giant Internet-beaming satellite constellations. Starling and Kuiper.
Earlier this year, SpaceX submitted a request for a revision to the FCC, asking the federal agency to allow Starlink to change a range of satellite parameters. The application got stuck after Amazon-owned Kuiper Systems FCCC became concerned, arguing that the changes demanded by SpaceX could lead to future orbital overlaps of Starlink satellites and their own satellites operating at similar heights.
SpaceX proposed to reduce the operating altitude of future Starlink satellites from 1,110-1,325 km to 540-570 km. The company argued that deploying satellites at relatively low altitudes would reduce broadband signal latency and make it easier for any future space debris to orbit itself into Earth’s atmosphere.
The problem is that Kuiper is very close to where it wants to deploy satellites. Kuiper’s lowest orbital shell is 590 km, with a tolerance of 9 km above or below. The top of the modified orbital shell of the SpaceX has a range of 570 km and a tolerance of 30 km. That means When the Kuiper galaxy is fully deployed (590 km cluster is the last group deployed by Kuiper), Starlink and Kuiper satellites are likely to share a 20 km orbital shell.
SpaceX gave a big discount this week. A Letter On Tuesday, the company agreed to allow all Starlink satellites to operate at an altitude of more than 580 km, which is 1 km below Kuiper’s lowest altitude when launched by Kuiper, according to David Goldman, head of Satellite policy at SpaceX.
“As a result of discussions with Amazon, SpaceX is now committed to accepting the terms proposed by Amazon to address its concerns,” the letter said. “Once this issue is resolved, SpaceX requests that the Commission expedite its reform.”
SpaceX has asked the FCC to approve the deployment of a cluster of 58 Starlink satellites above the Arctic Circle, as suggested in the original application, because the company does not want to miss a launch window in December.
SpaceX ressed said the deployment of this polar shell was an important step in testing the StarLink service in the most remote parts of the world, including Alaska. The company added that bringing coverage through the polar orbit would contribute to national security by supporting government critical missions in areas with only satellite internet access.
Kuiper has other concerns with SpaceX’s plans. In the revision request, it was also suggested to reduce the space space Minimum elevation angle of Starlink ground stations from 40 to 25 Compensate for reduced satellite coverage due to altitude changes (lower satellites cover lower ground when signals are transmitted).
Kuiper argued that low elevation angles would reduce height and increase the incidence of in-line interactions between the two constellations by up to 250 percent. It will take Kuiper some time to verify these figures, however it has not yet deployed any satellites.
Amazon affiliate plans to gradually launch 3,200 satellites to form a galaxy. The company received FCC approval for the deployment in July.
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