Viasat Asks FCC to Halt SpaceX Starlink Satellite Launches

Satellite internet provider (IP) Viasat requested for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to prevent SpaceX from launching any more satellites on Friday, according to Space News.

The company suggested in a May 21 filing that the agency should have conducted a comprehensive environmental review of Starlink’s satellite constellation prior to approval.

Starlink’s constellation, which already accounts for over 1,600 satellites, launched 52 more satellites earlier this month and obtained approval from the FCC to lower the altitude of some of its satellites at the end of April.

SpaceX is also expected to launch another round of satellites into orbit on Wednesday, and with over 500,000 orders already in place for its beta, it’s safe to say Starlink has the densest satellite constellation service as of yet.

Viasat’s request for the FCC to pause Starlink satellite launches cited the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), from which satellites are exempt – though the company says orbital debris, light pollution, and disintegrating satellites should have been evaluated prior to establishing a mega constellation.

Viasat Chief Officer for Global Government and Regulatory Affairs John Janka said, “We believe the FCC failed to conduct a legally required environmental review under NEPA and did not honor the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to a science-based approach to protecting the atmosphere, the Earth’s climate, space and the well-being of U.S. citizens before authorizing the launch of thousands of new Starlink satellites into low-earth orbit.”

Janka continued, “As such, we have asked the Commission to stay its order until the federal courts review its legality.”

If the FCC doesn’t pause Starlink launches by June 1, Viasat plans to bring the case before the U.S. Court of Appeals to seek a stay and review of the modification order.

Sounds like Viasat is taking the legal route to try and compete against SpaceX and Starlink.

Last month, Amazon satellite company Blue Origin also claimed that NASA had moved the goalposts in awarding a moon launch contract to SpaceX. Amazon’s Project Kuiper also features plans for a satellite constellation, set to rival both Viasat and Starlink.