SpaceX Approved to Launch Up to 7,500 Next-Gen Starlink Satellites
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved SpaceX to launch up to 7,500 next-generation Starlink satellites on Thursday, according to a report from CNBC.
“Our action will allow SpaceX to begin deployment of Gen 2 Starlink,” said the FCC.
The approval is only for part of SpaceX’s application for Starlink next-gen satellites. The company wanted 10,800 Starlink satellites to orbit at altitudes of 525, 530 and 535 km and inclinations of 53, 43 and 33 degrees respectively, leveraging frequencies in the Ku- and Ka- bands. The FCC deferred its decision on SpaceX using E-band frequencies and tracking beacon.
In addition, the FCC created specific stipulations for SpaceX’s approval, saying it limited the number of Gen2 satellites Starlink can launch “to address concerns about orbital debris and space safety.”
The agency went on to defer a decision on SpaceX’s full application requests.
“We also grant SpaceX’s request for authority to conduct launch and early orbit phase (LEOP) operations and testing during orbit-raising, as well as tracking, telemetry and command (TT&C) during the process of removing its satellites from orbit, consistent with the parameters described in the application and related material,” said the FCC filing.
Currently, SpaceX has around 3,500 of the first-generation Starlink satellites in orbit, with about 500,000 worldwide subscribers as of June.
In recent months, Starlink coverage expanded significantly, especially in northern regions such as Alaska, Canada, Sweden and Finland. SpaceX also debuted Starlink in the Arctic, and on the super remote Pitcairn Island and Easter Island.
Although the satellite internet service has reached nearly global coverage, SpaceX said in a filing it plans to launch second-gen Starlink satellites weekly in 2023.
SpaceX has also dealt with competitor complaints over the Gen2 Starlink satellite, with Amazon even filing a complaint with the FCC over the next-generation tech last year.