Systems and Networks Research Group

Simulating Starlink

Mark Handley

SpaceX has filed plans with the US Federal Communications Committee (FCC) to build a constellation of 4,425 low Earth orbit (LEO) communication satellites. This constellation will use phased array antennas for up and downlinks and laser communication between satellites to provide global low-latency high bandwidth coverage. To understand the latency propertes of such a network, we built a simulator based on public details from the FCC filings. In this work, we evaluate how to use the laser links to provide a network, and look at the problem of routing on this network. We provide a preliminary evaluation of how well such a network can provide low-latency communications, and examine its multipath properties. We conclude that a network built in this manner can provide lower latency communications than any possible terrestrial optical fiber network for communications over distances greater than about 3000 km.


Press Coverage and Discussion