Published: Sun, November 18, 2018
IT | By Darin Griffith

SpaceX gets approval to blast over 7000 satellites into space

SpaceX gets approval to blast over 7000 satellites into space

Space exploration company, SpaceX has gotten approval from the United States (US) Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to build a full network of about 12,000 satellites meant to blanket the earth for wireless Internet access. The first Starlink satellites should become operational by either 2019 or 2020.

Kepler Communications, Telesat Canada and LeoSat were each given the green light for their respective plans. Kepler's proposed NGSO system, consisting of 140 satellites, is licensed by Canada. The FCC's approval for SpaceX shows a much grander vision than what SpaceX talked about before. The Commission's action will allow Kepler to offer global IoT connectivity, targeting especially sensors and other intelligent devices as well as other fixed satellite services using its proposed constellation in the 10.7-12.7 GHz and 14.0-14.5 GHz frequency bands.

"Our approach to these applications reflects this commission's fundamental approach: encourage the private sector to invest and innovate and allow market forces to deliver value to American consumers", Mr Pai added. The high-throughput satellites will form a mesh network interconnected through inter-satellite laser links, creating an optical backbone that is approximately 1.5 times faster than terrestrial fiber networks.

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Satellites this low in LEOs will see their orbits decay quickly before they're captured by Earth's gravity to burn-up in the atmosphere. At the end of nine years, the FCC freezes approval at the number of satellites in use. However, the FCC turned down the request, citing that SpaceX has not provided sufficient grounds for the final implementation milestone requirement to be waived.

That request has not yet been addressed by the FCC and must go through a public comment period.

SpaceX wasn't alone in obtaining permission to launch new satellites. Satellite-based service today now are used for service on ships and airplanes. With a variety of companies like Rocket Lab, Iridium Next, LeoSat and Open Cosmos vying alongside SpaceX to make satellite launches cheaper and more efficient, the issue of crowding has become a cause for concern.

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As of April 2018, there were orbiting Earth.

Extension to this, there are about 500,000 pieces of debris counted in orbit in 2012.

The FCC said it is "propos [ing] changes to improve disclosure of debris mitigation plans" and on "satellite disposal reliability and methodology, appropriate deployment altitudes in low-Earth-orbit, and on-orbit lifetime, with a particular focus on large NGSO satellite constellations". It has said it plans to begin launches next year. "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".

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