Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Elon Musk-led spacetech company SpaceX wants to bring broadband internet to everybody on the planet by launching tens of thousands of small "Starlink" satellites to low Earth orbit.

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Worldwide broadband is an admirable goal but at the cost of deep space exploration doesn't seem to be a good tradeoff.

#1 | Posted by 6thPersona at 2019-11-13 06:31 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

Well... it just means that we will just have to launch more telescopes into space (probably using SpaceX rockets) so they are outside the shell of satellites.

#CapitalismWins

#2 | Posted by gtbritishskull at 2019-11-13 09:58 AM | Reply

"Worldwide broadband is an admirable goal but at the cost of deep space exploration doesn't seem to be a good tradeoff."

What GTBRITISHSKULL said.

#3 | Posted by danni at 2019-11-13 10:43 AM | Reply

I think I'm on Musk's side on this one. Broadband access would immediately and substantively improve the quality of life for billions of people living in the poorest regions of the planet. Let the deep space scientists figure out new ways to explore deep space. The primary focus of science should be to benefit the quality of life on Earth.

#4 | Posted by moder8 at 2019-11-13 11:09 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

#2-3-4

When I first read this it prompted this question for me. Why is the The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), an independent agency of the United States government, in charge of what satellites can be launched to cover the planet?
I remember a short while back that an asteroid that was big enough to be dangerous passed close enough to the Earth to cause alarm. Everybody jumped on NASA for not finding it sooner. I would think that other countries that have space exploration programs would have skin in the game, i.e., early warn systems. They have the ability to orbit the earth and land on the moon but they didn't have systems to detect the stone. If the earth is surrounded by 30,000 small satellites that hinder asteroid detection, will they be willing to send up orbiting telescopes? Or does it fall to us?
Admirable goal, needs to be thought through.

#5 | Posted by 6thPersona at 2019-11-13 11:51 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

"Everybody jumped on NASA for not finding it sooner. I would think that other countries that have space exploration programs would have skin in the game, i.e., early warn systems."

They do and they did. The problem is, Americans LOVE to see how bad America is for not being god-like being, combined with the American media being very scared to report news that makes others seem like they might be better at something than us. If you search for the major news sites of other countries and read their headlines when an event is occurring, you will see a lot more countries do have dogs in the fight. The American media just doesn't like that.

#6 | Posted by humtake at 2019-11-13 01:47 PM | Reply

I think I'm on Musk's side on this one. Broadband access would immediately and substantively improve the quality of life for billions of people living in the poorest regions of the planet.

#4 | POSTED BY MODER8 AT 2019-11-13 11:09 AM

It's a lot cheaper to do it with terrestrial based communication systems. So far the Starlink failure rate, the official one, is 5%. The actual rate is much higher. They're going to need a 20x reduction in flight costs to try to compete with current, and falling, cell infrastructure prices. It's not particularly feasible in the next several decades.

#7 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-11-13 08:11 PM | Reply

1 cell tower costs about $250,000. Just to cover the USA there are over 300,000 cell towers. That is $75 Billion just to cover the continental US. The Starlink Satellites cost about $1 million each including launch costs.24 launches of 60 will give global coverage. After that each launch just adds redundancy and capacity. The total cost of putting 30,000 in orbit will be about $30 Billion so you are talking GLOBAL coverage for half the cost of US cell tower coverage. The system is actually live and has performed well in testing.

#8 | Posted by hatter5183 at 2019-11-14 10:31 AM | Reply

#4 | Posted by moder8

It would also allow people unfettered access. i.e China's Great Firewall or Iran's or any other country. The PROBLEM would be is it would all be in Musk's hands and the US government would assuredly have a back door and work to manipulate things.

#9 | Posted by GalaxiePete at 2019-11-14 01:02 PM | Reply

You're off by $100k on the cell towers, $250k on cost per launch, didn't include failure rates, available bandwidth per user, satellite bloat as they add the remaining required systems, depreciation and upgrade costs, etc. Every failure costs $1.75 million dollars, no upgrades they have to be destroyed through re-entry. Towers are cheaper and easier. Starlink makes for great marketing though, like Solar Tiles.

#10 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-11-14 01:15 PM | Reply

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A Starlink satellite deorbits in 5 years, giving you a depreciation rate of $350k per year. The Constellation depreciates at a rate of $6 billion per year, needing 100 launches to maintain.

It's certainly a bold plan, I'll give it that. All previous efforts have failed to be economical. You can get rural satellite internet right now for around $1/Mb/s per month. It just doesn't come close to competing with urban and suburban terrestrial internet delivery, wireless & wired, in pricing, and that's where the money is.

#11 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-11-14 01:47 PM | Reply

That's $6 billion in the extremely favorable math, which in space math means at least double it.

#12 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-11-14 01:48 PM | Reply

But what of astrology?!

#13 | Posted by ClownShack at 2019-11-14 01:51 PM | Reply

Broadband access would immediately and substantively improve the quality of life for billions of people living in the poorest regions of the planet.
#4 | POSTED BY MODER8

Yeah, instead of starving to death they could Google the nearest McDonalds.

#14 | Posted by 6thPersona at 2019-11-14 01:55 PM | Reply | Funny: 2

"they could Google the nearest McDonalds."

Which has free wi-fi

#15 | Posted by eberly at 2019-11-14 01:59 PM | Reply | Funny: 1

Broadband access would immediately and substantively improve the quality of life for billions of people living in the poorest regions of the planet.

Really? Precisely how? I would think that energy, clean water, and food is a much higher priority.

#16 | Posted by nullifidian at 2019-11-14 02:08 PM | Reply

You're off by $100k on the cell towers, $250k on cost per launch, didn't include failure rates, available bandwidth per user, satellite bloat as they add the remaining required systems, depreciation and upgrade costs, etc. Every failure costs $1.75 million dollars, no upgrades they have to be destroyed through re-entry. Towers are cheaper and easier. Starlink makes for great marketing though, like Solar Tiles.

#10 | POSTED BY SITZKRIEG AT 2019-11-14 01:15 PM | REPLY |

failure rates are minor the system has redundancy. 1500 satellites can give global coverage. He is planning 30,000. Still way cheaper than 300,000 cell towers just for the continental US. A US Airforce Jet was able to connect to the existing starlink cluster at 600 Mbps

#17 | Posted by hatter5183 at 2019-11-14 03:30 PM | Reply

They lose 5% of the satellites they launch, and all the satellites destroy themselves after 5 years. No grasp of depreciation. Lets hope to god you don't do QA. 1500 satellites is only enough bandwidth to support 50% of the 2012 Internet. It's 2019. Without 30,000, you can't support even 2018 bandwidth usage, let alone upcoming usage. Global coverage is irrelevant, coverage over population density is what matters. Basic logistics.

#18 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-11-15 08:26 AM | Reply

They lose 5% of the satellites they launch, and all the satellites destroy themselves after 5 years. No grasp of depreciation.

1) 4G towers are useless for 5G cell tech. 5g only has an effective range of 500 feet. To fully cover 1 square mile requires a grid of 100 5G radios. Verizon is installing 1 million 5G radios to get coverage in 20 cities.

2) The lifecycle for enterprise grade computer equipment is 3 years. 5 years is 66% longer than normal. The skylink Satellites are routers.

#19 | Posted by hatter5183 at 2019-11-15 11:15 AM | Reply

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