How SpaceX Might Turn Starlink Into a Super-accurate GPS Network

SpaceX has been working on a massive project called the Starlink satellite constellation for the past five years. SpaceX intends to offer high-speed broadband access to every corner of the world by launching over 12,000 satellites into low Earth orbit using an undulating lattice-like array.

Rocket ship launching during daytime.
Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

SpaceX has started testing its new satellite internet service with around 900 satellites already in space. However, this mega-constellation may have more in store for us than just internet connectivity. Scientists believe it might also be used to produce a better GPS replacement system as a side advantage.

Let's have a glance!

Understanding Global Positioning System(GPS)

GPS technology locates a user's location by using signals from satellites. By multiplying the time it took a satellite signal to reach Earth by the speed of a radio wave, the distance is computed.

Manufacturing firms, supply chains, oil drilling, various logistics, banks, and practically any other industry employ them. According to a 2017 assessment, the world may be overly reliant on technology.

Although the US GPS constellation was launched in 1978, it is only one player in this global arena. GLONASS was founded by the Soviet Union in 1982, and Beidou by China in 2000. Then there was Galileo, the European Space Agency's first satellite placement experiment.

Getting Into the Weeds

Because these satellites are closer to the planet than regular GPS satellites (which orbit at a distance of roughly 12,000 miles), they may be able to offer a stronger navigation signal than GPS. However, this would make jamming the GPS signal more complex, a prevalent problem with older GPS devices.

These low-Earth-orbiting satellites would only require a software upgrade to improve their navigation. These satellites already have a broad concept of where they are to avoid collisions. Still, with the new software, they will determine their exact location significantly more precisely.

Elon Musk's company launched the air object, i.e., satellites, into space to give international networks to distant places around the Globe. The researchers noted a site on Earth in 7 meters using information from six Starlink air objects, i.e., Satellites.

The researchers didn't require SpaceX's help to utilize the signals of Satellite, and they made it clear that they were not accessible to the original information delivered by the satellites, only data about their geography.

Making a Comparison

They used Starlink to pinpoint the antenna's placement to within 7.7 meters. On the other hand, GPS can usually identify a gadget's geography within 0.2 to 6 meters. The research team has employed the same methods with different low-orbit satellite constellations but low exactness, locating places within 23 meters. The company has also been collaborating with the US Air Army to find the whereabouts of aircraft in more height; utilizing land-based cellphone signals, they were able to get within 5 meters.

SpaceX has 1,600 air objects in low orbit, which means those orbit at a distance of around 1,200 kilometers from the surface. In addition, SpaceX intends to launch more than 40,000 satellites in total.

GPS has been operational for over 35 years, and its coverage is famous, similar to free software. This would be helpful to Businesses who create Google Positioning System acceptors for cellphones and automobiles but renders the system open too to charge. In addition, Google Positioning System air objects (satellites) are too away from Planet Earth than low-orbiting objects, resulting in weaker coverage that is more likely to be intervention.

Strikes on Google Positioning System coverages can altogether disable them, which has become a significant hazard for air traffic systems. In addition, intimate strikes on Google Positioning System can change where an object comes in radar Systems that track geography; they can even control an object's course — for example, few strikes have taken over armed things, marine boats.

It is expected that SpaceX's Antenna, which Elon Musk has described as a UFO on a stick, will be needed instead of low price Google Positioning System strips that can install inside smartphones and watches.

Any directional navigation system would be much more expensive than GPS due to SpaceX's significant investment in Starlink. It is underappreciated because of these factors.

Bottom Line

The satellites can use GPS satellites higher in the atmosphere to ping each other to determine their location. Once the software is installed and put to use, ground-based receiver systems will pick up the satellite-emitted signals.