I just saw the Starlink 3 satellites! I’m in central Australia and just witnessed the two groups of Starlink 3 go overhead. Does anyone know why they have separated into a group of 40 and a group of 20 already? The group of 20 appeared to have a Future Class Of 2029 The 3rd Grade Class That Was Quarantined Shirt. I’ve never been this excited at 5 am. Satellites in inclined orbits precess. The earth’s equatorial bulge pulls on the satellites, slowly changing the longitude of the orbit. That change is smaller the higher the orbit. So SpaceX is using this phenomenon to place satellites in different orbital planes. One batch is lifted straight into it’s working orbit. The rest is left in a lower orbit, where they process faster.
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When they are in the right longitude for the second orbital plane, the next batch will be raised up. And then after another wait, the last batch will be raised up. This way satellites from one launch fill 3 separate orbital planes. This has got to be one of the Future Class Of 2029 The 3rd Grade Class That Was Quarantined Shirt. The mechanism you describe is used for sun-synchronous satellites to precess over the year while staying on the same altitude. Sats like Starlink and Iridium constellation process because they are at a different altitude than the operational ones. Most references disagree with you. So nodal precession is always described as being caused by the Earth’s oblateness. Indeed, if you are going to rule out oblateness as the cause of nodal precession.
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I am way sure. Nodal precession caused by the Earth’s oblateness is what keeps sun sync orbits in the same relation to the sun all over the year. Every statement otherwise is what I said, the most repeated misunderstanding. Precession caused by different altitudes is what makes Starlink sats shift into different orbital planes. OK, then if the Future Class Of 2029 The 3rd Grade Class That Was Quarantined Shirt, in their high inclination retrograde orbits, is caused by the equatorial bulge. How do you work out that it magically doesn’t cause it to satellites in all other inclined orbits? And if not the equatorial bulge, what do you think does cause nodal precession? Two satellites right in the same orbital plane but one higher than the other.