SpaceX Can Depoy Over 7,000 Broadband Satellites

Isaac Cain
November 18, 2018

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted November 15 to approve four proposed satellite constellations, authorizing almost 8,000 small telecom satellites to serve U.S. entities from low Earth orbit.

Starlink is aiming to provide internet access anywhere on the globe via an array of low earth orbit satellites deployed at altitudes ranging from 715 to 823 miles.

FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai said, "I'm excited to see what these services might promise and what these proposed constellations have to offer".

The additional satellites, which are on top of the 4,425 for which SpaceX already has approval, form part of the Starlink project announced by Musk at an event in January 2015. SpaceX is expected to spend more than United States dollars 10 Million for this project with the aim of having it operational by the mid-2020s.

The rest - which move at speeds of some 12-19,000 miles (20-30,000 kilometers) per hour - includes almost 3,000 inactive satellites, 2,000 pieces of rockets (such as the second stages of rockets) and thousands of fragments produced by two key events: the deliberate missile explosion of a Chinese satellite in 2007, and the 2009 collision of an Iridium satellite with an aging Russian one.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base in October 2018.

The Federal Communications Commission voted to let SpaceX launch 4,425 low-Earth orbit satellites.

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In total, the FCC approved the requests of four companies, adds Colin Mann - Space Exploration Holdings, LLC (SpaceX), Kepler Communications, Inc.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said at the meeting that the new satellites are "smaller and less expensive to launch than the traditional geostationary satellites that have been going up since the 1960s".

In addition, the regulator proposed creating a new unified license for space stations and earth stations operating in a geostationary orbit, fixed-satellite service network.

Es'hail-2 was built by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and will be operated by Qatar's national satellite-communications company. Instead of sending Internet traffic to just a handful of satellites in geosynchronous orbit, the companies hope to boost satellite Internet speeds by using many cheaper satellites that orbit closer to earth. The 16-year-old company is best known for sending heavy commercial loads into orbit with reusable rockets that have changed the dynamics and financials of how the largest rockets in the world are deployed.

That's why the FCC today it has "initiated a comprehensive review of its orbital-debris mitigation rules".

"W$3 hile we appreciate the level of detail and analysis that SpaceX has provided for its orbital-debris mitigation and end-of-life disposal plans, we conclude that the unprecedented number of satellites proposed by SpaceX and the other NGSO FSS [fixed-satellite service] systems in this processing round will necessitate a further assessment of the appropriate reliability standards of these spacecraft, as well as the reliability of these systems' methods for deorbiting the spacecraft", the FCC said. The first Starlink satellites should become operational by either 2019 or 2020. The company is building its satellites in-house.

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