SpaceX launches another 53 Starlink satellites

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully used its Falcon 9 rocket to launch another 53 Starlink satellites into orbit.

This was the eighth flight of the first stage, which successfully landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic. This was also the company’s sixth launch in July, in only three weeks.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

33 SpaceX
24 China
9 Russia
5 Rocket Lab
4 ULA

American private enterprise now leads China 46 to 24 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 46 to 40.

SpaceX successfully launches another 46 Starlink satellites

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully used its Falcon 9 rocket to place another 46 Starlink satellites into orbit.

The first stage, completing its fourth flight, landed successfully on a drone ship in the Pacific.

This was SpaceX’s 32nd launch in 2022, exceeding the record of 31 launches it set last year, and doing so only a little more than halfway through the year.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

32 SpaceX
23 China
9 Russia
5 Rocket Lab
4 ULA

American private enterprise now leads China 45 to 23 in the national rankings, and the entire globe combined 45 to 39.

SpaceX launch aborted 46 seconds before launch

Capitalism in space: In what has become a rare event for SpaceX, the company was forced to abort a launch of a Falcon 9 rocket today carrying 46 Starlink satellites only 46 seconds before launch.

The company has scrubbed a few launches in the past three years due to weather, but I think this is the first launch abort apparently due to a technical issue in several years.

No details were given for the abort, but whatever the issue was, it was apparently not serious, as the launch team immediately announced that they have recycled the launch to its back-up date tomorrow.

SpaceX completes 31st launch in 2022, matching its entire output in 2021

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched 53 Starlink satellites with its Falcon 9 rocket, completing its 31st launch in 2022, matching the company’s entire output for all 2021 in only a little more than six months.

The first stage completed its 13th mission.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

31 Space
23 China
9 Russia
5 Rocket Lab
4 ULA

American private enterprise now leads China 44 to 23 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 44 to 39.

SpaceX is targeting 60 launches in 2022. With the year just a little more than half over, it is setting a pace capable of achieving that goal.

OneWeb agrees with SpaceX: Dish’s ground-based plans a frequency threat

Capitalism in space: In a filing with the FCC, OneWeb has come out in full agreement with its competitor SpaceX, stating that Dish’s proposal to use the 12 GHz wavelength would threaten its satellite communications.

In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, OneWeb urged the regulator to reject a request from satellite broadcaster Dish Network and spectrum holder RS Access to run two-way mobile services in the band. If approved, “it would leave significant areas of the United States unusable by the otherwise ubiquitous NGSO [fixed satellite service] user terminals,” wrote Kimberly Baum, OneWeb’s vice president of spectrum engineering and strategy.

To connect user terminals, the SpaceX-owned Starlink and OneWeb megaconstellations use a satellite downlink band that extends from 10.7 GHz to 12.7 GHz. The analysis from OneWeb is the latest in a string of studies assessing how a high-power mobile network in the 12.2-12.7 GHz band would impact NGSO services.

Though the FCC has not yet made a final decision, it has already rejected Dish network’s request to block SpaceX’s use with Starlink of these wavelengths.

SpaceX launches another 46 Starlink satellites

Capitalism in space: Using its Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX today successfully launched another 46 Starlink satellites from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

The first stage completed its sixth flight, landing on the drone ship in the Pacific.

A minor note: SpaceX has clearly decided to simplify these broadcasts. Each is now starting much closer to launch, and the announcers have reduced their narration to the absolute minimum. Overall, this seems a wise policy, because though these live streams are good advertising, most of the people listening at this point do not need detailed explanations of everything. If anything, too much chatter is annoying, and as always less is more.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

29 SpaceX
21 China
9 Russia
4 Rocket Lab
4 ULA

The U.S. now leads China 41 to 21 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 41 to 36. The forty-one launches in just over half of ’22 beats the U.S.’s total for the whole year just two years ago.

Dish Network condemns Starlink and SpaceX study

Constellation wars! In an apparent response to the FCC’s decision last week to reject the Dish network’s request that the agency block Starlink from using the 12GHz frequency band so that Dish could use it, Dish (as part of a coalition) now claims that SpaceX’s study on the use of that band is “scientifically and logically flawed” and used “cherry-picked” data.

While the FCC had rejected Dish’s blocking request, it also said it was still studying whether Starlink’s orbital system and Dish’s ground-based system could both use the frequency at the same time. Today’s statement is obviously Dish’s effort to influence that FCC study.

The coalition’s full statement also said this about the request by Starlink to its customers to send their own comments to the FCC:

In addition to this manipulated filing, Starlink has initiated a public misinformation campaign by falsely telling customers and the public that coexistence is not possible in the band among Starlink and 5G services – despite nationwide data proving otherwise. This tactic, which is commonly used by Elon Musk, is not only disingenuous, but it promulgates an anti-5G narrative that is harmful to American consumers who deserve greater competition, connectivity options and innovation. It also stands to threaten America’s global leadership in the 5G and technology sector as other countries outpace the nation in delivering next-generation services.

This constellation war has hardly begun. Expect politicians to soon get involved, both pro and con, prompted by campaign contributions from the commercial players (which when paid to ordinary we call it “bribes”).

Meanwhile, SpaceX announced yesterday that Starlink is now offering its service to boat owners, though the service is hardly cheap.

Starlink Maritime costs $5,000 per month, plus an initial $10,000 fee that covers two high-performance satellite dishes. It promises to deliver download speeds of 350 Mbps. Regular Starlink internet costs $110 per month, along with $599 for the necessary hardware.

SpaceX launches another 53 Starlink satellites

Capitalism in space: Earlier this morning SpaceX successfully launched 53 Starlink satellites, using its Falcon 9 rocket.

The first stage was flying its thirteenth flight, and supposedly landed successfully, though the stage’s video cut off just before landing, the drone ship video did not show it on the pad, and the confirmation of that landing was very late. It is possible it landed on a spot that the camera did not show, or that the landing occurred in the ocean and the stage was lost. We shall have to wait and see.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

28 SpaceX
21 China
8 Russia
4 Rocket Lab
4 ULA

The U.S. now leads China 40 to 21 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 40 to 35.

Amazon to FCC: Consider limiting SpaceX’s Starlink constellation for our benefit

In a letter sent to the FCC last week, Amazon asked the agency to limit the size of SpaceX’s full constellation so that Amazon will be free to someday launch its own Kuiper constellation.

In the recent letter, Amazon recommends the FCC license a “subset of SpaceX’s proposed system” (as opposed to the whole fleet) to give the agency additional time to consider the “novel challenges” such a significant expansion might present. For example, Amazon believes hundreds to “more than 10,000” of SpaceX’s new satellites could be operating in the altitudes already approved for its Kuiper satellites, which could cause interference in the spectrum and “orbital overlap.” The company claims SpaceX has refused its requests for communication around these concerns as it has urged the FCC to approve its application. It also cites eight other satellite operations who have objected to the plan, including Dish Network, which is currently engaged in a public battle over radio frequencies with SpaceX.

Amazon’s concerns might carry more weight if the launch of its constellation was not so delayed. Both Amazon and SpaceX began development of their satellite constellations at about the same time. Yet, while SpaceX has already launched almost 3,000 satellites, and is providing its service to several hundred thousand customers, Amazon has yet to launch a single satellite.

Thus, though what Amazon is asking the FCC seems reasonable, it is also asking the FCC to block a competitor’s successful operation while it dilly-dallies along, accomplishing little.

This pattern from Amazon fits the pattern of all of Jeff Bezos’s space-related projects: Big promises, little action, and when competitors get things done sue or demand the government play favorites. Sure does not seem to me to be a good long-term business plan.

The battlelines and alliances shift over big satellite constellations in space

Two stories today show that the competition for frequency use and orbital territory in space are shifting, partly because of international politics and partly due to changes in technology.

First the harsh conflict between OneWeb and Starlink over the positioning and frequency use of their constellations in orbit now appears to have vanished.

The companies have written a joint letter to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), declaring harmony in low Earth orbit (LEO) for spectrum coordination between their respective current and next generation broadband constellations.

In the letter, which is dated June 13, SpaceX and OneWeb request that the FCC disregard previously filed dissenting comments regarding spectrum coordination in LEO. SpaceX and OneWeb both submitted proposals for their first-generation internet constellations to the FCC in 2016, followed by a second round of proposals in 2020 for each company’s next-generation broadband satellites. Simultaneously, both SpaceX and OneWeb submitted complaints with the FCC in an attempt to get a leg up on each other. Now, it seems the companies are operating on friendlier terms.

The article I think correctly speculates that this new-found cooperation probably resulted from OneWeb’s need to use SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets to get its satellites in orbit, caused by Russia’s confiscation of 36 OneWeb satellites in response to Europen sanctions over the Ukraine War. During the launch negotiations I am sure SpaceX demanded both iron out their differences relating to the satellite constellations. While SpaceX might have been able to gain some advantages in that negotiation due to its strong position, I also suspect that OneWeb has not been hurt in any major way.

In the second story, SpaceX ramped up its opposition to a Dish 5G system in a wavelength used by its Starlink satellties.
» Read more

SpaceX launches another 53 Starlink satellites

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully used its Falcon 9 rocket to launch another 53 Starlink satellites into orbit, initiating a weekend where the company hopes to complete three launches in three days.

At the time of this writing, the satellites had not yet been deployed. The first stage landed successfully on the drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, completing its 13th flight, a new record. The video of the landing at the link was also one of the clearest yet, with little drop-out or distortion.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

24 SpaceX
18 China
8 Russia
3 Rocket Lab
3 ULA

American private enterprise now leads China 33 to 18 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 33 to 29.

OneWeb successfully tests airplane wi-fi using its satellites

Capitalism in space: During an eleven hour test flight, OneWeb has successfully tested the use of its satellite constellation to provide wi-fi service during long international flights.

Flight tests will continue throughout the rest of this year, with certification of the Sidewinder terminal expected in mid-2023. OneWeb expects to launch its new service in the middle of next year. It has so far launched about two-thirds of its 648-strong constellation of satellites.

This puts the OneWeb and SpaceX’s Starlink constellation in direct competition, since both will be offering this service directly to airlines. Thus, for both the airlines and their customers, this competition will likely not only lower price, it will improve service.

Musk: Starlink will not go public until ’25 at the earliest

Capitalism in space: According to Elon Musk, a public sale of stock for the Starlink internet satellite constellation has now been pushed back another three to four years, and will not occur any earlier ’25.

His revised date means Starlink’s IPO has been delayed once again for another three years. In an email to SpaceX workers in 2019, also obtained by CNBC, Musk gave a three-year timeline for Starlink’s public offering, meaning an IPO could have taken place this year.

In 2020, Musk tweeted that Starlink would “probably IPO” in “several years.” He then tweeted in June 2021 that it would be “at least a few years before Starlink revenue is reasonably predictable” and taking it public any earlier would be “very painful.”

This quote however from Musk I think best describes his experience being in charge of a publicly traded company: “Being public is definitely an invitation to pain.”

France re-approves Starlink service

Capitalism in space: After finally completing what France’s telecom bureaucracy ARCEP calls “a public consultation,” the French government once again approved Starlink service on June 2nd.

ARCEP had authorized Starlink in February 2021, however, France’s highest administrative court revoked the license April 5 after ruling that the regulator should have first launched a public consultation.

That ruling came after two French environmental activist organizations submitted an appeal to challenge Starlink’s frequency rights, citing concerns including the impact of megaconstellations on views of the night sky and space debris.

This approval, combined with recent approvals of Starlink in the Philippines and Nigeria, continues the steady expansion of Starlink service globally.

Astronomers: Shut down satellite companies so we don’t have to adapt!

The Hubble Space Telescope
Space-based astronomy, a concept apparently alien to astronomers

In an article published today in Nature, the astronomy community continued its crybaby complaining of the last three years about the interference posed to their ground-based telescopes by the tens of thousands of small satellites scheduled for launch in the next few years.

These quotes typify the apparent attitude of astronomers:

“This is an unsustainable trajectory,” says Meredith Rawls, an astronomer at the University of Washington in Seattle. “At the moment, our science is fine. But at what point will we miss a discovery?”

…“It’s really quite horrifying,” says Samantha Lawler, an astronomer at the University of Regina in Canada.

…The growing threat of satellite constellations adds to other degradations of the night sky such as light pollution, says Karlie Noon, a PhD candidate in astronomy and an Indigeneous research associate at Australian National University in Canberra. “In the same way that our lands were colonized, our skies are now being colonized,” she says. “And this isn’t just Indigenous people.” She points out that companies have launched satellites without necessarily consulting the scientific community. [emphasis mine]

Oh the horror. Scientists weren’t consulted! The nerve of these companies!

In response, astronomers have decided their only solution is to enlist the UN to shut down these satellite companies.
» Read more

Chinese expert calls for China to find ways to destroy Starlink constellation

A Chinese communications expert at its Beijing Institute of Tracking and Telecommunications has written a paper calling for China’s military to develop ways in which it can to destroy SpaceX’s Starlink constellation.

According to the South China Morning Post, lead author Ren Yuanzhen and colleagues advocated in Modern Defence Technology not only for China to develop anti-satellite capabilities, but also to have a surveillance system that could monitor and track all satellites in Starlink’s constellation.

“A combination of soft and hard kill methods should be adopted to make some Starlink satellites lose their functions and destroy the constellation’s operating system,” the Chinese boffins reportedly said, estimating that data transmission speeds of stealth fighter jets and US military drones could increase by a factor of 100 through a Musk machine connection.

I am sure China (as well as every other superpower — including the U.S. military) is already working on developing methods for either jamming or destroying Starlink. Doing either however is difficult because of the constellation’s nature: many small satellites all of which provide redundancy and are easily replaced. Even more depressing for these power-hungry government entities is the fact that Starlink is not the only constellation now in orbit, with many others soon to follow.

For example, consider the contracts that the NRO announced today with three different surveillance satellite companies, all of which have their own constellations. Getting rid of one is hard. All three is likely impossible.

SpaceX launches 53 Starlink satellites on a new Falcon 9 rocket

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched another 53 Starlink satellites, the company’s second launch in less than 24 hours.

The most newsworthy component of this launch is that for first time since February 2, 2022, and only the fourth time since the beginning of 2020, the Falcon 9 rocket used a new first stage, which successfully landed on its drone ship in the Atlantic. It appears that SpaceX is adding about two new boosters per year to its first stage fleet, based on the evidence from these launches.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

20 SpaceX
15 China
6 Russia
3 Rocket Lab
2 ULA

The U.S. now leads China 28 to 15 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 28 to 24.

SpaceX successfully launches another 53 Starlink satellites

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched another 53 Starlink satellites, using a Falcon 9 first stage for the fifth time.

The first stage landed successfully on a drone ship.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

19 SpaceX
15 China
6 Russia
3 Rocket Lab
2 ULA

The U.S. now leads China 27 to 15 in the national rankings, as well as the entire world combined 27 to 24, leads that should widen in the next week with two more SpaceX launches as well as Boeing’s Starliner unmanned demo mission launch on ULA’s Atlas-5.

Yawn: Rogozin tweets threats to Musk, Musk shrugs

In yesterday’s non-news Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos which runs Russia’s entire aerospace industry, issued a threat against Elon Musk for supplying the Ukraine Starlink service in its war against the Russian invasion, and Musk responded with an almost cheerful quip.

On Sunday (May 8), Musk posted on Twitter a note that he said Rogozin, the head of Russia’s federal space agency Roscosmos, had sent out to Russian media. The note claimed that equipment for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite-internet system had been delivered to Ukrainian marines and “militants of the Nazi Azov battalion” by the U.S. military. “Elon Musk, thus, is involved in supplying the fascist forces in Ukraine with military communication equipment,” Rogozin wrote, according to an English translation that Musk posted. (He also tweeted out a Russian version.) “And for this, Elon, you will be held accountable like an adult — no matter how much you’ll play the fool.”

This sounds very much like a threat, as Musk acknowledged in a follow-up tweet on Sunday. “If I die under mysterious circumstances, it’s been nice knowin ya,” he wrote. Musk’s mom, Maye, didn’t appreciate that glib response, tweeting, “That’s not funny” along with two angry-face emojis. The billionaire entrepreneur responded, “Sorry! I will do my best to stay alive.” (It was Mother’s Day, after all.)

Musk’s light-hearted response only stands to reason, considering Rogozin’s loud-mouthed track record. Nothing he says really matters, so why should Musk care that much. Musk probably posted Rogozin’s comments out of amusement more than anything else..

SpaceX launches another 53 Starlink satellites

Capitalism in space: Early this morning SpaceX successfully launched 53 Starlink satellites, using and landing the Falcon 9’s first stage for the twelfth time.

The fairings halves were flying for their third and sixth times. This was also SpaceX’s sixth launch in less than a month.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

18 SpaceX
14 China
6 Russia
3 Rocket Lab
2 ULA

American private enterprise now leads China 26 to 14 in the national rankings, as well as all the entire world combined 26 to 23.

Viasat once again demands government block its competitor Starlink

In a letter to the FCC submitted on May 2, 2022, Viasat once again demanded the government block the deployment of SpaceX’s full 30,000 Starlink satellite constellation.

SpaceX shouldn’t be allowed to greatly expand its Starlink network while light pollution issues surrounding its deployed satellites remain unresolved, Jarrett Taubman, Viasat vice president and deputy chief of government affairs, said in a letter to the regulator.

While calls for a thorough environmental review that Viasat made for Starlink’s current generation of satellites in December 2020 were largely rejected, Taubman said SpaceX’s plan to grow the constellation by seven times “would have significant aesthetic, scientific, social and cultural, and health effects on the human environment on Earth.”

In other words, rather than try to compete with SpaceX, Viasat wants the government to squelch that competition. Though Viasat’s previous complaints have been rejected entirely, there is no guarantee that the Biden administration will continue to reject them. Recent evidence suggests instead that it will instead use this complaint as another opportunity to limit SpaceX’s operations, for political reasons.

Meanwhile, the only possible harm to Earth the full Starlink constellation might do is cause a limited interference in ground-based astronomy. Since astronomers have made so little effort to get their telescopes into orbit, above such interference, few should sympathize with them. If anything, Starlink should be the spur to get all of its telescopes off the ground and into space. Astronomers will not only avoid light interference from Starlink, they will get far better data without the atmosphere smearing their vision.

SpaceX launches another 53 Starlink satellites

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched another 53 Starlink satellites using its Falcon 9 rocket, the first stage successfully flying and landing for the sixth time.

That first stage had flown only three weeks ago, thus completing the fastest turnaround yet.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

17 SpaceX
12 China
5 Russia
2 ULA
2 Rocket Lab

The U.S. now leads China 24 to 12 in the national rankings.

Watch today’s launches by SpaceX and Rocket Lab

UPDATE: The Rocket Lab launch has been pushed back to May 1st because of poor weather today. The live stream below is still valid but it won’t go active until about 20 minutes before launch.

Capitalism in space: Two American rocket launches are scheduled for today, first a launch of another 53 Starlink satellites on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral followed by the launch of 34 smallsats on Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from New Zealand.

I have embedded the live stream of both below. The Rocket Lab launch will be especially exciting, because the company is going to attempt for the first time the recovery of the first stage for reuse by snatching it in the air with a helicopter as it slowly descends on parachutes.

The SpaceX launch is scheduled for 5:27 pm (Eastern), with the live stream going active about 20 minutes before launch. If successful it will be the shortest turnaround for a Falcon 9 first stage, only 21 days and shaving almost a week off the previous record.

About one hour later the Rocket Lab launch will occur, the live stream also going active about 20 minutes beforehand.

» Read more

SpaceX’s signs up another airline to use Starlink Wi-Fi on its planes

Capitalism in space: Hawaiian Airlines has now become the second commercial airline company to agree to use SpaceX’s Starlink Wi-Fi on its airplanes.

Hawaiian Airlines said Monday that it will offer free wireless internet service from SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network on flights between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland, Asia and Oceania. The airline said it is in the early stages of putting the service in place on some aircraft next year.

Honolulu-based Hawaiian said it’s the first deal between Elon Musk’s space company and a major airline, although charter operator JSX announced a deal with SpaceX last week.

Expect all the American airlines to soon switch to Starlink. The low orbit of the satellites and its high speed make it superior to the other satellite options presently available.

Today’s blacklisted American: The media knives are now out for Elon Musk

Musk: a target of the leftist press
Musk now a target of the leftist press.

They’re coming for you next: Elon Musk’s effort to buy purchase of Twitter to end the ability of its leftist management and employees to censor opinions they don’t like has apparently activated this same blacklisting effort against Musk and his companies across many media fronts, based on two stories yesterday.

First we have this story in a local Florida newspaper, describing a handful of letters of complaint to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) about SpaceX’s proposal to build an industrial wastewater treatment facility on its leased facility on Cape Canaveral.

The draft proposal was first filed back on February 2, 2022. It requests permission from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to create a facility that would “discharge up to 3,000 gallons per day of non-process potable water to a stormwater management system that, under specific conditions, discharges to a ditch leading to the Indian River Lagoon.”

After notice of the draft proposal was published in Hometown News Brevard, it drew the attention of Titusville residents.

The article then proceeds to give us a detailed description of each complaint letter sent to FDEP, all five. Based on the similar language in all the letters, they appear to be part of a quickly organized campaign by local environmentalists to block any expansion of SpaceX’s Florida operations. Because of these letters, FDEP has been forced to hold a public meeting today to discuss SpaceX’s proposal.

Next, we have this story from Business Insider: » Read more

NASA awards contracts to six companies for its future orbital communications

Capitalism in space: NASA has awarded development contracts to six different companies to test the technology for providing the agency orbital communications for its manned missions, replacing the NASA-built TDRS satellite constellation.

In addition to SpaceX and Project Kuiper, the contractors include U.S.-based ventures representing Inmarsat, SES, Telesat and Viasat. Each venture will be required to complete technology development and in-space demonstrations by 2025 to prove that its system can deliver robust, reliable and cost-effective services — including the ability for new high-rate and high-capacity two-way links.

NASA would follow up by negotiating long-term contracts with multiple vendors to acquire services for near-Earth operations by 2030, while phasing out satellite communications systems owned and operated by the space agency.

Because NASA’s own station will likely be gone when these new in-space communications constellations become operational, their likely customers will not be NASA but the private space stations now under development. NASA is thus accepting responsibility for paying the cost for getting this communications need developed, for all the private companies. While the private space stations should eventually pay for using and building these constellations, it makes sense for NASA to get this started. No one company could likely afford or even be willing to pay the entire cost, and getting them all to work out an arrangement now would be difficult. NASA in turn can get it done now, and then later negotiate contracts with the private stations to pay for its construction and use.

Delta testing Starlink use on its airplanes

Capitalism in space: The CEO of Delta has revealed that the airline company is testing Starlink as a method for providing its passengers internet access during flights.

Starlink officials have said they are also discussing this possibility with several airlines. It has also sought regulatory approval from the FCC, and will also need it from the FAA before officially proceeding.

The request to the FCC was made in March 2021, more than a year ago, and appears to have not yet been approved. Moreover, there have been signs that the FCC has been slow-walking other Starlink license requests. These facts, combined with the delays forced on SpaceX by the FAA, provides further circumstantial evidence that the federal bureaucracy under the Biden administration is working to block the success of Elon Musk’s space companies.

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