SpaceX gets FCC approval for 7,500 more broadband satellites ars_ab.settitle(1412579)

Satellite constellation

Satellite constellation

The Federal Communications Commission today gave the go-ahead for SpaceX to operate a constellation of more than 7,500 broadband access satellites in very low Earth orbit - and also gave the go-ahead for other satellite constellations chasing similar markets. The approval on Thursday gives SpaceX flexibility to provide high-speed broadband coverage for more areas in the USA and worldwide.

The FCC also granted SpaceX's request to add the 37.5-42.0 GHz and 47.2-50.2 GHz frequency bands to its previously authorised non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) constellation.

"We let these four companies move forward, and allow the market decide their success", he said.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has two test satellites aloft, and it earlier won permission for a separate set of 4,425 satellites - which like the 7,518 satellites authorized Thursday are created to provide broadband communications.

In total, the FCC has granted 13 market access requests and satellite applications to nine companies for NGSO FSS constellations seeking authority to provide "next-generation connectivity" across the country in the past 18 months.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the constellations that advanced today are evidence of a major shift in space activities, since the number of approved satellites almost equals the 8,126 objects that have been launched into space since Sputnik in 1957.

SpaceX, Telesat and Kepler all asked for leniency with the six-year rule, but were rebuffed by the FCC.

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.

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

LeoSat meant to launch two prototype satellites next year, but scrapped those plans to save costs, choosing instead to do tech validation on the ground with Thales Alenia Space and investor Sky Perfect Jsat of Japan.

The FCC today also voted to start the process of letting satellites in low Earth orbit use certain frequency bands to provide services to ships, airplanes, and vehicles.

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

"Even a centimeter-wide object can wreak devastating damage to satellites", Pai said.

While the constellations approved are only proposed, three of the four companies whose plans advanced November 15 already have demonstration satellites in orbit.

SpaceX has submitted debris mitigation plans, but the FCC said it still needs more details from the company.

"While there are still issues to be explored, including communications with [Earth stations in motion] and orbital debris, and policy calls that we may not have gotten quite right, such as how we handle in-line interference, the commission continues to take necessary steps to allow investment and future deployment of these ambitious projects", O'Rielly said.