SpaceX aims to overcome communication problems that spacecrafts experience during each plasma blackout. With that, the company plans to test their Starlink user terminals to establish communication lines with spacecrafts re-entering Earth's atmosphere at high temperatures. If successful, Starlink stands at the brink of revolutionizing science and space discoveries.
A few months back, SpaceX introduced its Starlink satellite system and internet service. The main idea for Starlink is to send thousands of satellites orbiting around Earth and build an interconnected network. With so many satellites around Earth, Starlink takes inspiration from space constellations orbiting around the planet.
In terms of performance, the Starlink internet service could run data speeds at 50Mb/s to 150Mb/s and latency from 20ms to 40ms. SpaceX plans to significantly improve these numbers after more satellites have been sent to space.
SpaceX Starlink Test Flight and Mission Details
Wccftech reported that SpaceX is bringing its Starlink performance tests to the next level. The company is taking on the challenge to use Starlink and establish communications with spacecrafts re-entering Earth's atmosphere.
Spacecrafts re-entering Earth are extremely dangerous situations, where the vehicle heats up somewhere between 3000 and 3500 Fahrenheit. The heat ionizes the air around the spacecraft, creating a layer of plasma that prevents radio waves from entering the spacecraft's receivers. This lasts for half an hour, with ground control remaining completely unaware of the vehicle's status.
The whole phenomenon is called Plasma Blackout. This is a significant concern not only for spacecrafts but also hypersonic vehicles aiming to travel 10 times faster than the speed of sound.
SpaceX is said to be planning to overcome this challenge by adding multiple terminals that could withstand excessive atmospheric heat in the spacecraft. This user dish will scan for the nearest Starlink satellite and automatically re-establish connectivity for the spacecraft.
SpaceX Starlink Satellites Could Make Space Travel Easier
If successful, SpaceX and Starlink Satellites could significantly improve the future of space travel. Proper communication lines with astronauts, especially during Earth re-entry, will improve passenger safety and ground control feedback. There are also different technologies that can benefit from this possible discovery.
Most spacecrafts have struggled to enter the Martian atmosphere because of its high temperatures. Deployment of instruments and drones on the planet's surface usually results in plasma blackouts. The SpaceX discovery could greatly improve communications for Earth and its Martian missions.
Lastly, the Starlink system could also be used to enhance the hypersonic gliders developed by Pentagon. These gliders often attach to ballistic missiles and "slip" into Earth's atmosphere to avoid plasma buildup and pre-maturely exploding its cargo.
Starlink terminals were generally built to provide internet service to consumers across the globe. However, its potential opens up beyond Earth's immediate atmosphere. SpaceX will have to develop new and better terminals to equip these fast-moving vehicles.
The operating to test SpaceX Starlink systems is scheduled to start from August and is expected to end sometime in October.
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