The Federal Communications Commission has given Elon Musk’s SpaceX clearance to more than treble the existing number of operational satellites in Earth orbit during the next few years.
The FCC has given the green light for the launch of 7,500 new Starlink broadband internet satellites, which is about one-fourth of the 29,988 additional flying routers the business had proposed adding to its embryonic mega-constellation in low-Earth orbit.
The launch of thousands of second-generation (Gen2) Starlink routers was allowed by the government agency on December 1, but the remaining 22,000+ satellites in the request were put on hold. The approval postpones SpaceX’s planned use of E-band frequencies and tracking beacons while allowing the corporation to utilise Ku- and Ka-band frequencies.
Essentially, the new ruling cancels out an earlier FCC licence allowing SpaceX to launch a constellation of over 7,500 V-band satellites. However, the corporation has now scrapped that strategy.
This implies that the number of satellites SpaceX is permitted to launch has not increased as a result of our action today, as stated in the directive. The number of satellites SpaceX might have launched is reduced by a little margin because to this.
Nonetheless, the decision confirms the firm’s intention to considerably increase orbit’s population density. As of April 30, 2022, there were 5,465 working satellites, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. That includes every operational satellite in the world as of that day, from every company, country, and organisation.
SpaceX has since added over a thousand more satellites to the fleet, and the permission for Gen2 satellites will more than treble that number.
In recent years, some scientific groups have voiced worry that the proliferation of satellites in low-Earth orbit might hamper astronomical observations and endanger astronauts and other space travellers.
In response, SpaceX has promised to de-orbit the vehicle on time and to increase the satellites’ reflectivity with special coatings and technology.
A representative from SpaceX did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The approval all but guarantees consistent and frequent Starlink launches for the rest of the decade, barring any new instructions from the FCC. Half of the authorised satellites must be up and running within six years, while the other half must be deployed and operational by December 1, 2031, according the directive.
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