Starlink : According to the state-run media agency Tass, the Skif satellite constellation’s deployment is expected to begin in 2025. In an interview, Yevgeny Nesterov, director general of Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems (ISS), stated that the country plans to launch two prototype Skif satellites in 2025.

Nesterov added that the scientists had finished evaluating the systems and payload on the Skif demo satellite. On October 22, the Vostochny space complex launched the demonstration satellite. A Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket carrying three Gonets-M satellites and a Skif-D module was launched as part of the Sfera program on October 22 at 22:57 Moscow time. The program is viewed as an important component of Russia’s space goals including it’s own Starlink.

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During his annual Q&A session on June 7, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin made the first mention of the Sfera program. The initiative will comprise satellite communications and Earth remote sensing satellite development for Starlink. Former Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin indicated that the Sfera program would include five telecom satellite constellations as well as five surveillance satellite constellations.

Meanwhile, the Russian official stated that once the flight tests are done, investigations will be carried out to build communication routes that take into account the Doppler effect and varying delays.

Russia & Starlink

Furthermore, the satellite will be involved in a study on the effects of space radiation as confronted by a satellite in orbit 8,000 kilometers above the ground for the duration of its full life lifetime. Nesterov noted that the serial Skif satellites in Starlink, which would weigh more than one metric ton, will be different from the demo model.

Furthermore, the Starlink will enable broadband internet connectivity to inaccessible areas such as Russia’s Arctic regions. As an alternative to the European O3b constellation, the constellation was created. Russia’s national security depends on the Arctic region. The country’s space agency, Roscosmos, had previously stated its intention to expand monitoring and surveillance capabilities in the region.

This comes as Russian officials have suggested that commercial space constellation systems such as Starlink might become viable military targets. Konstantin Vorontsov, deputy leader of the Russian delegation to the UN, urged to condemn what he saw as American pressure of commercial services for military purposes. He warned that “quasi-civilian infrastructure may become a valid target for reprisal,” and urged the US to abide by existing international space treaties and standards, such as the 1967 UN Convention on Law of the Sea.

However, John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, stated, “I would simply say that any attack on US infrastructure would be met with a response, and that response will be appropriate to the threat that has been posed to our infrastructure.”

Importance of Starlink

Starlink is a satellite network that is intended to provide global access to high-speed internet. The project was announced by SpaceX in February 2018. It has about 2,000 satellites in orbit and thousands of ground terminals. After Russia’s incursion disrupted Internet connectivity, SpaceX launched their Starlink internet service for Ukraine.

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In Ukraine, Starlink services have aided in the restoration of the Russian-targeted energy and communication infrastructure. Concerns remain about how strongly its billionaire owner, Elon Musk, will support the war effort. Cyberattacks on Musk’s satellites, he claims, have already occurred. According to sources, “Peresvet” laser beams launched from Belgorod, Russia, attempted to disrupt Starlink.

A Falcon 9 launch can only deploy 50 Starlink satellites. SpaceX charges a commercial fee of $67 million for each launch. SpaceX does not provide financial information. However, Musk stated on October 14 that Starlink, the company’s current principal source of revenue, is still losing money. He claims that avoiding bankruptcy for an LEO communications constellation is quite tough.

He later backtracked on a vow to withdraw financial support for Ukraine’s Starlink service, claiming it had already cost his company $80 million. Nonetheless, experts predict that Russia would struggle to destroy the entire Starlink satellite network because it would take a stunning 4000 Starlink satellites to do so.

SpaceX

SpaceX operates the Starlink satellite internet constellation, which provides satellite Internet access coverage to 40 nations. In addition, by 2023, it intends to provide a global mobile phone service. 

Starlink will consist of over 3,000 mass-produced tiny satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO). These will interact with certified ground transceivers by September 2022. A total of almost 12,000 satellites are intended to be deployed, with a possible later increase to 42,000 satellites. As of June 2022, Starlink had over 500,000 customers.

The Starlink research, development, manufacturing, and orbit control teams are housed in the SpaceX satellite development facility in Redmond, Washington. SpaceX estimated the cost of the decade-long effort to design, develop, and deploy constellation would be at least US$10 billion. SpaceX anticipates its satellite network to generate more than $30 billion in income by 2025. While revenue from its launch business is estimated to exceed $5 billion in the same year.

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