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FCC Deletes SpaceX to Bring Nearly 1,600 Internet Beaming Satellites to Lower Orbit



A SpaceX Falcon Heavy launches a communication satellite from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in April 2019.
Photo: John Raoux (AP)

The Federal Communications Commission has agreed to plans by SpaceX to fly a fleet of satellite broadcasters, Starlink, on a "lower orbit than originally planned," Verge reported Saturday.

SpaceX had originally planned to launch 4,425 Starlink satellites (long-term launch of nearly 12,000) with ranges of around 1,110 to 1,325 kilometers. This plan was approved by the FCC in early 2018. Later, based on test data, the company decided that there would be 1,584 of these satellites at the much lower altitude of about 550 km (550 miles). SpaceX argued that a lower altitude could reduce latency to 15 milliseconds and reduce the total number of satellites by 16 without reducing coverage, the Verge wrote. The lower altitude would also allow satellites that lose orbit to quickly burn rather than clog earth orbit with space debris. This was the concern of a recent NASA study.

Competing satellite internet company OneWeb and satellite operator Kepler both objected to the plan, claiming that Starlink could cause lower-level signal interference and potentially even a risk of collision. In its approval, the FCC noted that "the modification proposed by SpaceX is not a significant interference issue and is in the public interest."

The FCC added that SpaceX claims "because all its satellites are propelled and maneuverable to prevent collisions. It is assumed that they pose no risk to other satellites in this orbital region," and the company says that "the operation of satellites at a height of 550 km ensures a 100% success rate of disposal after a mission within 5 years in the worst case scenario." She also concluded that the estimate of the collision risk of SpaceX in case that a satellite's propulsion systems are no longer functional, "within accepted limits … even in worst case assumptions that go far beyond a realistic scenario." [19659006] SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said to Verge in a statement, "This The approval underscores FCC's confidence in SpaceX's plans for the next generation deploy sat satellites and connect people around the world with reliable and affordable broadband services.

Although the Internet is being downslipped by satellites, this sounds like a good idea on paper, but many other companies have problems with their own similar projects. The Facebook project Athena turned to satellites with the aim of starting one by the beginning of 2019 (this is not the case), after drones failed to function properly. Google is working on Project Loon, which aims to transport LTE with hot air balloons to remote regions of the world. However, there were already numerous crashes and a major patent lawsuit. Amazon has announced its own initiative.

There is no guarantee that any of these projects will live up to expectations soon. As Gizmodo has already said, one possible outcome, even if successful, is the fact that technology companies are seizing the opportunity to create monopolies in the countries with the least Internet infrastructure, creating a series of negative externalities.

SpaceX has a tight timeline: As the Verge wrote: "The FCC's approval of this constellation is conditional on SpaceX launching at least half of these satellites in the next six years." SpaceX, in turn, told Verge that this was the case and has already produced a number of Starlink satellites and is about to launch in May.

[The Verge]


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