The Federal Communications Commission today approved SpaceX's proposed change to put thousands of satellites in low earth orbit to provide a global broadband connection, clearing the way for launching satellites next month.
SpaceX had already authorized 4,425 Starlink satellites using the Ku- and Ka-band radio spectrum to display Internet data, but in November last year, the company asked the FCC to sign a plan that would allow more than a third of the satellites to be placed at 550 kilometers (340 miles) orbits instead of the previously approved 1,150 kilometers orbits.
Finally, SpaceX plans to add more than 7,500 satellites to lower orbits to improve constellation coverage.
Competing companies working with their low-ground orbit constellations, including the International OneWeb Consortium and Kepler Communications, expressed concern over SpaceX's proposal to change its satellite orbital layout. They said corrected orbits could increase potential interference in their planned communication systems. But the FCC agreed with SpaceX's allegations that it would avoid interference and lifted the objection.
Other objections were whether SpaceX's lower orbital satellites could pose a collision risk. The FCC also accepted SpaceX's statements on this issue.
"SpaceX argues that since all its satellites are propelled and maneuverable to prevent collisions, it is believed that they pose a zero risk to other satellites in this orbital region," said the FCC today. Regulators also took note of SpaceX's assertion that satellites in the 550-kilometer orbit would be released from the impact of atmospheric impact within five years.
GWynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX and Chief Operating Officer, welcomed the FCC's action in the email sent to:
“This confirmation confirms FCC's commitment to SpaceX's plans to deploy its next-generation satellite constellation and connect people around the world with reliable and affordable broadband. Starlink's production has been good, and the first satellite group has already arrived at the start-up site for processing. ”
SpaceX says the first satellite wave will be launched in orbit from Canaveral Cape Force station in Florida no earlier than May.
The company company in Redmond, Wash., Has played a leading role in the development and production of Starlink satellites. Last year, the satellite development team took the lead to accelerate the progress of a multi-billion dollar project and move forward with a design review.
In addition to satellite permission, SpaceX has applied for up to a million user terminals as well as the first six ground-based gateways to provide the necessary communication links from satellites to the global Internet. Two of these gates will be in Washington State, Redmond and North Bend, and the constellation telemetry, tracking and team station will be Brewster, Wash.
SpaceX has said that its original version of the Starlink service could offer a high-speed connection from 2020-2021. SpaceX requires half of its constellation satellites to work by 2024. To facilitate this task, SpaceX sets the foundation for its super-heavy lift Starship launch system in Texas.
Over the last few years, the top-up schemes for Internet access have grown. SpaceX and OneWeb are generally considered to have made the most progress in their plans. Kepler Communications, who graduated from Techstars Seattle Starting Incubator in 2016, focuses on the Internet of Things. This month, Amazon said it was planning its own satellite broadband network, with the code name project Kuiper. Other potential market players are Telesat, LeoSat, Boeing and Facebook.
Alphabet's Loon and HAPSMobile, a joint venture involving Softbank Corp and Aerovironment, emphasized a different approach to high-speed connectivity this week, when they announced a collaboration to provide broadband access to balloons and solar-powered high altitude training.