FCC Approves SpaceX Plan to Launch Broadband Satellites
The SpaceX plan for a global wireless internet network provided by 4,425 satellites has been approved by the FCC. The $10 billion Starlink proposal calls for the satellites to launch in two phases between 2019 and 2024, then fly between 714 and 823 miles above the Earth providing a 1 Gbps to terrestrial customers. By comparison, that’s about 200 times faster the average connectivity speed today.
In a statement, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said: “Although we still have much to do with this complex undertaking, this is an important step toward SpaceX building a next-generation satellite network that can link the globe with reliable and affordable broadband service, especially reaching those who are not yet connected.”
SpaceX plans to begin operations once a “constellation” of 800 satellites is in orbit. Each satellite will cover an area approximately 650 miles in diameter.
The FCC expressed some concern about the number of satellites SpaceX plans to launch by tying their approval to an updated de-orbit plan, reported Space News. The Satellite Database of the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates there are currently 1,738 operating satellites in orbit.
For large broadband constellations to deliver services in the U.S., the FCC must approve their operations to ensure that the satellites don’t interfere with other uses, and will operate in a way that lowers the risk of collisions.
SpaceX launched its first two prototype satellites in February as a secondary mission with the Paz radar satellite for Spanish operator Hisdesat. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk plans to use the Starlink constellation to generate revenue that will support his aspirations to colonize Mars.