SpaceX completes Starlink Shell 1 and Old-School Competitors are already Worried

in LeoFinance5 months ago (edited)

A recent post, The Business of SpaceX's Starlink is ON, showed how profitable Starlink might become in a surprisingly short period of time.

Competitors trying hard to slow down Starlink

A post by Eric Ralph for, ViaSat asks FCC to halt SpaceX Starlink launches because it can’t compete, highlighted how the fight for business survival in space is heating up.

Bear in mind, SpaceX is only the first mover in the business of satellite-based, low-latency internet. OneWeb has already started to deploy satellites. Amazon's Kuiper is slated to launch first satellites this year. And a few others are working on similar plans.

ViaSat is arguing in a Stay Request to the FCC that Starlink deployment needs to be halted until further reviews and procedural processes are completed.

From the summary:

By design, each of SpaceX’s satellites will ultimately disintegrate into the atmosphere, collectively leaving behind millions of pounds of metallic compounds that could increase global warming. While in space, its satellites will reflect sunlight, increasing light pollution and altering the night sky. And there is a serious risk that these satellites will collide—either with each other, satellites operated by third parties, or with existing space debris. Such collisions will fragment the satellites, spread dangerous additional debris throughout surrounding orbits, and adversely affect the ability of others to traverse, and operate in, LEO.[1]

Concrete risks to the business of ViaSat:

Space Debris

That means a collision involving a SpaceX satellite risks creating debris that could have catastrophic and irreparable consequences for Viasat’s existing and planned operations. Any additional debris that damages, disables, or destroysViasat’s satellites while traversing LEO or operating in LEO would cause harm to Viasat’s business. [2]

Crowded Orbits

Second, even without satellite failures or catastrophic collisions, Viasat will suffer concrete injuries because the Order creates a more crowded orbital environment. As crowding increases, Viasat must expend time and resources ensuring that its own satellites—and particularly its current and future LEO satellites—do not collide or otherwise interfere with SpaceX’s. Moreover, because the Order authorizes SpaceX to begin filling up designated physical areas of LEO with many thousands of satellites, the Order constrains Viasat’s ability to carry out its own LEO projects in those same orbits. [3]

Competition for Customers

Third, Viasat will suffer competitive injury from the agency’s Order. SpaceX intends to use its environmentally irresponsible constellation to compete directly with Viasat in the market for satellite broadband services. SpaceX’s current network is insufficient for widespread commercial availability, but it has explained that once it has enough Starlink satellites in LEO—and it is launching them at a rapid clip—it will be able to move out of “beta” mode, extend its reach geographically, and compete with Viasat for customers directly. [4]

Grandfathering of Status Quo

...allowing SpaceX to launch thousands of satellites in the interim would allow SpaceX to argue that it must maintain those satellites it has already launched—and maintain service to customers who have already subscribed. [5]

Starlink satellites are in low-earth orbit to provide low-latency connections. Operations in a low orbit requires constant station keeping or satellites will deorbit within 5 years without propulsion. Therefore, these satellites have been designed with complete burnup during reentry in mind.

It is true that the sheer amount of additional satellites from SpaceX and future competing constellations will make it harder for earth based space observation and navigating low-earth orbit will be more challenging. There is an increased risk to spark, at least a temporary, Kessler Syndrome in low-earth orbit.

Those reasons have validity on a sliding scale and need to be addressed, but sound a little salty coming from a competitor that can't compete on these new terms.

Starlink 28 [Live: 26.05.2021, 18:59 UTC]

SpaceX is launching 60 additional Satellites for their own Starlink Constellation.

This launch will complete the first shell of satellites, covering approximately 80% of earth's surface. It will take until the end of the year until all satellites have maneuvered themselves into their designated orbits.

The complete constellation will consist of five shells and all satellites will be equipped with laser links. Currently only a small number, in polar orbit, have satellite-to-satellite communication via laser enabled.

The booster is a Block 5 on its 2nd flight and will land on a drone ship.

The mission to low earth orbit will launch from Space Launch Complex 40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.

Launch Weather by the 45th Weather Squadron is 90% go.


  • Payload mass is approximately 15,6 tonnes
  • 60 Starlink Satellites

Check your local time of launch at:

Where to watch:

Background information about previous SpaceX launches: Wikipedia

Scott Manley: SpaceX's 'Wet' Fleet 2021

Why SpaceX is Making Starlink - Real Engineering: Youtube

MikeOnSpace: OFFICIAL Starlink SPEED TEST results and SPACE LASERS - details on the Private Beta and Public Beta

Mark Handley: Using ground relays with Starlink

MikeOnSpace: Amazon KUIPER vs SpaceX STARLINK - Another heavyweight enters the race for Global Satellite Internet

Ben Sullins: Starlink Could Change EVERYTHING!

LTT: Gaming on STARLINK!!

Now You Know: We Test Elon’s $99 Mobile Internet | In Depth

Mediocre Coffee: Starlink vs. Telus: My Experience in Rural Alberta

Useful links to stay up to date on launches: Launch Schedule

Everyday Astronaut: Prelaunch Previews

Space News:

NASA Spaceflight

TMRO: YouTube

Track Starlink satellites:




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  1. Stay Request, p.2

  2. Stay Request, p.20

  3. Stay Request, p.21

  4. Stay Request, p.21

  5. Stay Request, p.21