Elon Musk's SpaceX gets nod to launch 12000 broadband satellites

Elon Musk's SpaceX gets nod to launch 12000 broadband satellites

Last month, reports said Musk fired some of the senior managers on the satellite constellation project, known as Starlink, at SpaceX's office in Redmond, Wash., because of disagreements over the speed of developing and testing the satellites. The first Starlink satellites should become operational by either 2019 or 2020.

Unless a waiver is granted, the FCC requires 50 percent of the satellites to be deployed within six years after giving the approval. This FCC approval brings the company a step closer to its ultimate space broadband network. The project is expected to have a total cost of $10 billion to develop.

The 7,518 additional satellites would be operating at very-low Earth orbit (VLEO) to boost capacity and reduce latency in overly populated regions. As described then, the first constellation would be positioned in a higher orbit, 714 miles above Earth, use different frequencies and initially comprise 4,425 satellites. In other words, the first set of Starlink satellites will operate at the altitude of 1,110km to 1,325km while the additional satellites will circle the earth from even lower 335km to 346km altitude.

Kepler has one prototype in orbit from a Chinese Long March 11 launch in January, a second planned for launch in November on an Indian PSLV, and a third under construction.

SpaceX is teasing latencies of 25ms having Gigabits of speed which is impressive.

"SpaceX can resubmit this request in the future, when it will have more information about the progress of the construction and launching of its satellites and will therefore be in a better position to assess the need and justification for a waiver", the FCC wrote.

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SpaceX thus has to deploy half of the 7,518 newly approved satellites within six years and the remaining satellites within nine years unless it successfully re-applies for a waiver.

On the same day the FCC approved an item contemplating what to do with an enormous amount of space debris, it approved the requests of four companies that want to roll out new and expanded nongeostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) satellites.

The FCC also approved access to the USA market for satellites from Kepler Communications Inc., Telesat Canada and LeoSat MA. The three companies will launch 117,78 and 140 satellites respectively. Looking at the size of SpaceX's constellation, the chances of collision increases largely.

The proliferation of plans for low-Earth-orbit constellations is one of the factors behind the FCC's newly announced moves to streamline its procedures for licensing satellite operations and review its rules for dealing with orbital debris.

Authorisation comes as SpaceX successfully launched its 18th rocket into space from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday, with a Falcon 9 rocket lifting Qatar's Es'hail 2 communications satellite into orbit.

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