SpaceX Refunds Starlink Pre-Orders in India, Country Head Resigns

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SpaceX will be refunding all of the pre-orders the company has received for its Starlink internet service in India since it is “currently unknown” when it will receive licenses to operate in the country — reports SpaceNews.

“Unfortunately, the timeline for receiving licences to operate is currently unknown, and there are several issues that must be resolved with the licensing framework to allow us to operate Starlink in India,” SpaceX told reservation holders in a January 4 email, according to Reuters.

Hours after news of the refunds broke, Country Director and Chairman of the Board of Starlink India Sanjay Bhargava announced in a LinkedIn post that he had resigned his post.

“I have stepped down as Country Director and Chairman of the Board of Starlink India for personal reasons,” said Bhargava. “My last working day was December 31, 2021. I will have no comments for individuals and media so please respect my privacy.”

The Indian government in November ordered SpaceX to halt all Starlink efforts, saying the company must “refrain from booking/rendering” Starlink services “with immediate effect” until the proper licenses are applied for and obtained.

SpaceX complied with the Indian government’s directive and stopped accepting Starlink pre-orders within days.

“We hope to have applied for a commercial license on or before 31st January 2022 (unless we hit some major roadblock),” said Bhargava in early December. It looks like the company did run into at least some roadblocks getting its high-speed satellite broadband service licensed in India.

Starlink pre-orders had already crossed the 5,000 mark by October, and now ex-Country Director Bhargava was hoping to partner with local industries and partner with Indian manufacturers ahead of Starlink’s official launch.

Hopefully, SpaceX’s Starlink launch in the neighboring country of Pakistan will go much smoother.

Starlink is gearing up to launch this year’s first batch of Starlink satellites into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on January 6 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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