Sunday, 26 May, 2019

SpaceX approved to send over 7,000 satellites into orbit

CEO Elon Musk participates in CEO Musk participates in a"fireside chat at the NLC 2018 City Summit in Los Angeles Thomson Reuters
Cecil Davis | 17 November, 2018, 17:52

"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. About 500,000 objects between one and 10cm "were estimated to be in orbit as of 2012", and at least 23,000 were man-made, the FCC said.

These 11,943 satellites - between 220 and 1,100 pounds in size - will form the expansive Starlink broadband network, created to provide worldwide high speed internet access by ensuring that at least one satellite is always above the horizon for anyone on Earth.

SpaceX got the green light to send more satellites to space.

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.

SpaceX wants most of the satellites to fly in low Earth orbit, about 208 to 215 miles (335 to 346 kilometers) high. From defunct satellites to pieces of old spacecraft, there are over 21,000 pieces of space junk larger than four inches and millions of debris measuring less than one-third of an inch orbiting our planet. In its request for modifications, SpaceX said the lower altitude would increase the space between its satellites and those of other proposed NGSO constellations, making for a better safety profile and mitigating the risk of collision.

The FCC gave SpaceX approval the next month for its first 4,400 satellites.

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Space earlier this year was granted permission to launch two broadband Internet test satellites into orbit.

It has also expanded its payloads, with a scheduled launch on Monday carrying 71 small probes for various commercial enterprises on a Falcon 9 rocket dubbed the "SmallSat Express", the Sputnik reported. SpaceX could start offering satellite internet services as soon as 2020, if all goes according to plan and the company sticks to its launch schedule. Last week, SpaceX filed an amended application seeking to put 1,584 of those satellites into 342-mile orbits instead of the originally specified 715-mile orbits.

In addition to functional objects that might collide, there are roughly 500,000 pieces of space junk flying around, many of which are so small "they can't be tracked", according to NASA, the United States space agency.

"When you try to model these millions of bits of stuff circling around the Earth in order to make space safer for functioning satellites, it's just so complex; it's a really hard task", she explained.

That's why the FCC today said it has "initiated a comprehensive review of its orbital-debris mitigation rules". The ruling also gave the company approval to use its proposed constellation of 140 NGSO satellites in the 10.7-12.7 GHz and 14.0-14.5 GHz frequency bands.

The SpaceX launch and other planned satellite constellations could increase the risk of satellite collisions and space debris, as we reported a year ago.