Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS & UPPSC Mains Exam: Paper - IV (General Studies – III) - 15 July 2020

Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS Mains Exam


Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS & UPPSC Mains Exam


UPSC Syllabus:

  • Paper - IV : General Studies - III : Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Q. What do you understand by 'Space Internet'? Discuss the significance and challenges of the Starlink Network Project. (250 words)

Model Answer:

  • Introduction
  • What is 'Space Internet'?
  • Significance of the Starlink Network Project
  • Challenges of the Starlink Network Project
  • Conclusion

Introduction:

SpaceX is the world’s leading private company in space technology. Starlink Network Project, as named by SpaceX is one of the ongoing efforts to start beaming data signals from space. It is also one of the most ambitious projects to provide Space Internet to all.

What is 'Space Internet'?

Space Internet or Space-based Internet is the ability to use satellites in orbit around Earth to send and receive data. Space-based internet is much faster and can work across the globe in comparison to satellite internet that already exists. Space-based Internet systems have been in use for several years now — but only for a small number of users. It would provide low-cost and reliable space-based Internet services to the world.

Significance of the Starlink Network Project:

  • The Starlink Network Project would ensure reliable and uninterrupted internet services. The Internet is now part of humanity’s basic infrastructure and an important means of delivering a wide variety of public services to the world’s people.
  • The project would make the internet universally available in every part of the globe.
  • Currently, more than half the world’s population lacks access to reliable Internet networks. As fiber-optic cables or wireless networks are incapable of delivering internet services everywhere. The project would seek to provide reliable internet services to all.
  • In many remote areas or places with difficult terrain, it is not feasible or viable to set up cables or mobile towers. Signals from satellites in space can overcome this obstacle.
  • Most of the existing systems use satellites that are placed in the geostationary orbit. But satellites in geostationary orbit have a major disadvantage. The Internet transmits data in (nearly) real-time. However, there is a time lag — called latency — between a user seeking data, and the server sending that data.
  • A transmission from a satellite in geostationary orbit has a latency of about 600 milliseconds. A satellite in the lower orbit will bring the lag down to 20-30 milliseconds.

Challenges of the Starlink Network Project:

  • The Starlink Network Project will place the satellites in the Low Earth orbit. Owing to the lower height of the orbit, their signals cover a relatively small area. As a result, many more satellites are needed to reach signals to every part of the planet.
  • Satellites in the Low Earth Orbit travel at more than double the speed of satellites than in geostationary orbit to balance the effects of gravity. Many more satellites are needed in the networks so that there are no breaks in the transmission of data.
  • Three issues have been flagged increased space debris, increased risk of collisions, and the concern of astronomers that these constellations of space Internet satellites will make it difficult to observe other space objects, and to detect their signals.
  • Astronomers have also shown concern about the increased “light-pollution” that is reflected by these man-made satellites. These on many occasions interfere with the light coming from the other heavenly bodies.

Conclusion:

Several other private companies like Amazon, OneWeb, O3B (Other Three Billion) have plans for space-based Internet services. These projects are smaller as compared to the Starlink Network Project. Though the Starlink Internet Project is expected to change the face of Internet services such as autonomous car driving are expected to be revolutionized, etc. We should also take precautionary steps so as to address the challenges faced by space internet effectively.