In this answer @uhoh notes:

The Starlinks currently have three types of internet-related communication:

  1. downwards with customers fixed on the Earth's surface below the satellites (except an occasional individual exception one can read about)
  2. sideways with other nearby Starlink satellites
  3. downwards with Starlink ground stations for connecting to the internet.

On 2021-09-17, Musk tweeted

Elon Musk Sep 17 ...Dragon will have a food warmer & free wifi next time :) | Everyday Astronaut Sep 17 Will Starlink be able to provide service for vehicles below AND above them? ... | Elon Musk Yeah. We’d use our Ka parabolics or laser links for Dragon, Starship or other spacecraft as soon as they got above cloud level.

From what I can gather, most space-based orbital communication is currently in the S-band, and Musk is talking about the Ka band or lasers to connect to Dragon. But I assume that a new transceiver on Dragon is fairly straightforward.

However, I'm not clear on what would be involved for the satellite network. Musk doesn't appear to indicate any changes needed to the satellites themselves.

Longer term there's talk of extending the network for Mars communication, but I doubt that's in play here?

Similarly, I doubt that satellite signal leakage would play much role.

I could, for example, imagine "flipping" some satellites to point their communication dishes spaceward then laser linking to other satellites pointing earthward, for some reduction in earth based available bandwidth.

Or I could imagine launching some number of satellites with an additional dish for spaceward communication.

Or perhaps just add additional space satellites in the "spaceward" orientation. (Though I've no idea how many would be needed)

Or do the orbits just work out that the dragon would be able to point to a laser port "horizon-ward" and reach a Starlink satellite?

Or to summarize the above visually: Visual summary

Question: Beyond a new transceiver for Dragon, what kind of changes might be done to the Starlink Constellation itself?



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