SpaceX Gets Nod To Launch 12,000 Broadband Satellites

Credit FCC

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted SpaceX US approval to deploy 7,518 more broadband satellites for its Starlink broadband service, complimenting the 4,425 that were approved eight months ago.

SpaceX's addition to the space will help the company create its "constellation of satellites" while Earthlings can hope better internet connectivity.

In addition to the companies that were the subject of today's actions, the worldwide OneWeb consortium is planning to put hundreds of satellites in low Earth orbit to provide low-cost global internet access.

The approval on Thursday gives SpaceX flexibility to provide high-speed broadband coverage for more areas in the USA and worldwide. The project would cost Dollars 10 billion to develop, and SpaceX aims a fully operational constellation by the mid-2020s.

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Space earlier this year was granted permission to launch two broadband Internet test satellites into orbit.

The FCC's March 2018 approval of SpaceX's first batch of satellites required SpaceX to launch 50 percent of the 4,425 satellites by March 2024 and all of them by March 2027.

All four companies are looking to develop non-geostationary orbit satellites, also known as low Earth orbit (LEO) or nano satellites. However, the FCC turned down the request, citing that SpaceX has not provided sufficient grounds for the final implementation milestone requirement to be waived.

Proponents say next-generation satellite Internet technology could help developing countries and rural areas connect to economic opportunities now out of reach for them because they lack competitive Internet access. Within five years of their launch into orbit, NASA estimated that nearly all of the Starlink satellites will need to be taken out of commission or they risk dramatically increasing in-space collisions.

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SpaceX had asked the FCC to approve modifications to its license, reducing the altitude from 1,150 kilometers to a new altitude of 550 km.

"My favourite example is an innocuous little screwdriver that slipped through an astronaut's grasp and has been circling low Earth orbit at up to 21,600 miles per hour for the last 35 years. I'm excited to see what services these constellations have to offer", FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said. "Accordingly, we condition grant of the application on SpaceX presenting and the Commission granting a modification of this space station grant to include a final orbital debris mitigation plan". Development of the Starlink satellites began in 2015. Right now there are fewer than 2,000 operating satellites...

In May, DARPA announced a $117.5 million project to adapt Starlink's technology for spy and navigation satellites to replace the U.S. military's aging fleet of giant and expensive satellites, which it fears are vulnerable to interception or interruption by hostile powers such as Russian Federation and China in the event of conflict.

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