“4200 Starlink satellites in operation in 18 months”

The American group Starlink is gaining momentum. Elon Musk, its CEO, announced on Twitter on March 29 that he wants to double the number of his satellites in low orbit (mostly at an altitude of 550 km) to reach the number of 4200 satellites in operation within 18 months.which is about two-thirds of all active satellites on Earth., he pointed out. This statement comes in a very contrasting context for a private company that promises to provide high-speed Internet services in the most remote regions of the globe.

The operator was simply deprived its hertz frequencies in France after applying to the State Council of the environmental associations Priartem and Agir pour l’environnement. The decision posted on April 5, 2022 overrides the decision made on February 9, 2021 by Arcep (Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications, Mail and Press Distribution), which provided two frequency bands to Starlink to connect its satellites to French users without any prior action.”for public discussion“. A new setback for Starlink, which has been offering its services in France since May 2021, but was only able to install one ground station in Villenave-d’Ornon (Gironde). Two other stations were originally planned at Gravelines (North) and Saint-Seigners-de-Bevron (Manche), but the mobilization of their inhabitants pushed the American operator back.

Riskcrowding of low orbits

Across the Atlantic, Elon Musk’s company is also under the gun NASA, which in early February sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (the US agency responsible for regulating telecommunications) expressing concern about Elon Musk’s desire to get permission to launch 30,000 satellites in addition to the 12,000 already planned. For the space agency, workload is low orbits of 42,000 satellites, a large proportion of which could fail, would increase the risk of collisions and hence debris, jeopardizing the future of satellite communications. There have already been several collision threats with SpaceX satellites in recent months. In addition, many astronomers have been touched by the light pollution caused by these machines, which is polluting their scientific observations.

Network used Ukrainian armed forces

But Elon Musk has also emerged in recent weeks as the “savior” of the internet in Ukraine after delivering a large number of Starlink network connectivity kits there in early March. The businessman was indeed challenged directly by Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Mikhail Fedorov, who asked him, a few days after the Russians entered his territory, to provide Starlink stations for his country at war. The Ukrainian network really was regularly subjected to cyberattacks by Russian operators, which may raise concerns about the shutdown of telecommunications networks.

These connection kits consist of a special antenna and a connection terminal. The architecture of the system is also based on ground stations connected by fiber to the Internet, which receive the signal and transmit it to the satellites. According to Starlink, they then relay it to users at 100 to 200 Mbps. Ukraine, however, does not have a ground station, as Starlink received permission to locate on its territory only after the start of the conflict. But the station installed at Wola Krobowska in Poland makes it possible to cover the entire region.

The Starlink network, in particular, is used by the Ukrainian armed forces to control drones equipped with night vision systems in the dark for reconnaissance or offensive missions. Starlink antennas can indeed receive signals, but they can also transmit them. And these shows can bedetected and listened to by Russian detectors, emphasizes Paul Wohrer, a specialist in security, innovation and high-tech space at the Strategic Research Foundation (FRS). And it could be dangerous if a homing missile is fired at the Starlink station. Elon Musk himself pointed to this, advocating that the antennas be located away from vital elements and turn on only intermittently so that they are not noticed. However, for the moment this network is effective, as the capabilities of Russian jammers are not effective enough to affect these stations..”

Prices still scare away many

Internet via Starlink is now available in the northern US, Canada, Central Europe and Northern Europe. An order simulation on the Starlink website shows that to access this service, you must first pay 634 euros for the purchase of equipment, and then pay 99 euros monthly for a subscription. The stakes that are currently holding back, which will not really help to democratize access to the Internet, is one of Elon Musk’s arguments in defense of his project …

Leave a Comment