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SpaceX makes concession to Kuiper, an Amazon satellite company, to reduce the orbit altitude of Starlink constellation

via:cnBeta.COM     time:2020/11/22 23:31:12     readed:83

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earlier this year, SpaceX submitted an application for revision to the FCC, asking federal agencies to allow Starlink to change a range of satellite parameters. The application stalled after amazon's Kuiper systems company raised concerns with FCC, with regulators arguing that the changes required by the SpaceX would cause future orbits of Starlink satellites to overlap with their own satellites, which operate at highly similar speeds.

Specifically, SpaceX originally proposed to reduce the operating altitude of future Starlink satellite groups from the previous 1110-1325 km (i.e. its range) to 540-570 km. The company believes that the deployment of satellites at this relatively low altitude will help reduce broadband signal delays and make it easier for any future space debris to derail into the Earth's atmosphere.

The problem is, it's too close to where Kuiper wants to deploy satellites. Kuiper's minimum orbital altitude is 590 km and the maximum allowable range is 9 km. The upper end of SpaceX modified track shell is 570 km, with a tolerance of 30 km. This means that when Kuiper constellation is fully deployed (590 km cluster is the last group Kuiper will deploy), Starlink and Kuiper satellites will probably share an orbit altitude of 20 km.

SpaceX made major concessions this week. On Tuesday SpaceX the head of satellite policy David Goldman wrote a letter to the FCC, the company agreed to limit the operating altitude of all Starlink satellites to no more than 580 kilometers after the launch, one kilometer lower than the minimum height range of the Kuiper.

SpaceX urged FCC to authorize the deployment of 58 Starlink satellites above the Arctic Circle, as recommended in the original application, as the company did not want to miss the launch window for December.

SpaceX stressed that the deployment of this polar constellation was a critical step in testing Starlink services in the most remote parts of the world, including Alaska. The company added that bringing coverage through polar orbits would contribute to national security and could be used to support key government tasks in remote areas.

Kuiper have other concerns about SpaceX plans. the SpaceX also recommends that the minimum elevation angle of the Starlink ground station be reduced from 40° to 25° in the modification request to compensate for the reduced satellite coverage due to altitude changes (lower satellites cover less ground when broadcasting signals).

The higher the elevation angle between the two constellations will increase by 250%. Kuiper, however, will need some time to validate these estimates, as it has not deployed any satellites.

Amazon's subsidiary plans to eventually launch 3200 satellites to form a constellation. and the company received FCC deployment authorization in july.

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