SpaceX Starlink Broadband Satellite Deployment over Earth
CONGRATS to SpaceX on the deployment of 60 Starlink broadband data satellites, delivering 1Tbit/sec of bandwidth from above. Many more to come, connecting the next 4B people to the global economy. New satellite design, deployment, Krypton thrusters and more. Been waiting for this day for many years now!
And so beautiful... like a space elevator to the cosmos.... bringing cloud services from above the clouds!
The recent availability of Ka and Ku-band phased array antennae (electrically steerable with no moving parts) makes it possible to dramatically reduce the cost of the satellites and ground terminals. The new architecture is competitive on price, latency and bandwidth with terrestrial alternatives, but affording global ubiquitous coverage from the onset.
Even the deployment was novel and had people scratching their heads before it happened. Normally, you have a lot of overhead for structures to hold and deploy the satellites in sequence. SpaceX tried something different — putting the entire upper stage into a slow roll and then tossing the whole stack out like a deck of cards. The array of moment forces spreads each satellite out from its neighbor. Here is a simulation in KSP.
Oh, and this was the third flight of this booster. It was recovered to use again, as well as the carbon fiber payload fairings.
P.S. full disclosure: Future Ventures is proud to be an investor, and I have been a board member for over a decade, and a fan of this new constellation for several years now.