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In my world there are rings, these rings are around 9.5 meters tall and a little around 5000 kilometres wide. Their closest point is a little over 12,000 kilometres away from the surface and under 17,000 kilometres at its farthest point. For all intents and purposes this world is the same as earth. Since the best place to put a satellite is at the equator and rings appear at the equator, this creates a problem as to have wireless communication across the globe, you need satellites. How can my people incorporate satellites in orbit? If they cannot, what alternatives to satellites can they use?

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  • $\begingroup$ How close is the nearest ring? and how far is the farthest? Many satellites are actually very low orbits $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Jan 7 '16 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ Is this an earthlike world other than the rings? (i.e. gravity, depth of atmosphere, etc)? $\endgroup$ – Tim B Jan 7 '16 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ for an alternative, look at Google's project Loon $\endgroup$ – DeveloperWeeks Jan 7 '16 at 21:16
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On Earth, a lot of satellites are in low-Earth orbit. This extends out to 2,000 km, which is a safe distance away from the innermost part of the rings around your world. So you can put satellites into orbit around your world in the same way that we put satellites into orbit around Earth.

Medium Earth orbit satellites would have to worry about the rings, but not too much. Wikipedia states "the most common altitude is approximately 20,200 kilometres", safely beyond the rings. Because the rings are not very tall, you don't have to worry much about them blocking communication with the satellites—giving their orbits a little bit of inclination relative to the rings will guarantee that communication will only be blocked for a fraction of a second at a time.

Any orbits farther out will be similarly unobstructed. Again, a little bit of inclination will go a long way.

The rings also won't make it much harder to get out to those orbits. You get into an elliptical orbit around the planet that takes your apoapsis (far point) out past the rings, then at your apoapsis you accelerate into a circular orbit.

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As has been pointed out by other answers, there are few satellites in the 12,000 to 17,000 km orbit. Most are communications satellites or Earth observation in a much higher geosynchronous orbit at 35,780 or in a much lower, and cheaper, orbit.

The closest to your ring would be various navigation satellites in a band ranging 19,000 to 23,500 km. Galileo (EU), GPS (US), BeiDou-2 (China), and Glonass (Russia) are all in that band. It provides a roughly half sidereal day orbit so each satellite is over generally the same locations every day. However, none are equatorial. Instead they're all inclined at 55 or 65 degrees to ensure every point on Earth can always see multiple satellites.

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There's a handful of satellites which are in highly elliptical which may cross the ring. One is the Chandra X-Ray Observatory which spends most of its orbit above the Earth's radiation belts.

There's two fantastic sources to reference:

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  • $\begingroup$ But wouldn't an inclined orbit of 55 degrees cross the equatorial region twice per orbit? Of course at 2,000 from the edge of the rings they would probably be safe. $\endgroup$ – Erik Feb 14 '18 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Erik Exactly. How close you can get depends on how clear the ring boundary is (ie. how many large particles get flung into higher orbits) and how much time you spend in the ring's plane. And crossing at 55° means an encounter will be at very high speed. If 2000 km at 55° is too close you'd choose a higher orbit. $\endgroup$ – Schwern Feb 14 '18 at 19:06
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Wireless communication does not need equatorial orbits, unless you restrict yourself to geosynchronous satellites. Wireless phones in general don't actually need satellites, since the transmission/reception for the vast bulk of wireless phones take place at cell towers. Anything which connects the towers together (satellite, copper cables or optical fiber) can do the rest of the connection.

Other than military comm satellites, the only commercial satellite phone system I know of is the Iridium system The Iridium satellite phones use LEO at about 485 miles, and would fit under your rings very nicely.

You seem to have confused geosynch satellites with wireless communication.

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