SpaceX initially sought permission from the Federal Communications Commission to deploy 29,988 second-generation Starlink satellites in 2020. Now, the FCC has at least partially granted his request. The commission granted the company permission to build, deploy and operate up to 7,500 satellites for the Gen2 constellation at altitudes of 525 km, 530 km and 535 km. The FCC said in an announcement that the approval of 7,500 satellites for the constellation will allow SpaceX to provide broadband internet to users worldwide, even those living in remote areas.
To address concerns about orbital debris and space safety, the FCC is limiting the number of satellites SpaceX can deploy for now. It says the limited grant will help maintain a safe space environment and protect other satellite and terrestrial operators from harmful interference. Considering that the FCC has authorized him to launch 12,000 first-generation Starlink satellites, several companies and even NASA have previously expressed concerns about SpaceX’s plan to deploy an additional 30,000 satellites.
In NASA’s letter to the commission, he mentioned the potential impact of an expanded constellation on science and manned spaceflight missions. It was said that multiple Starlink satellites could cause increased collision risks and lead to fewer launch windows. However, the FCC is only postponing “action on the rest of SpaceX’s application” for now, so it can approve additional deployments.
SpaceX chief Elon Musk previously revealed that the second-generation Starlink satellites will be much larger than their predecessors and will need to be launched on the company’s Starship launch vehicle. One of the reasons they’re bigger is because of their huge antennae that would be capable of communicating with phones here on Earth, like mobile towers in the sky. Indeed, the T-Mobile and SpaceX collaboration announced in August will depend on Starlink’s second-generation satellites. With their partnership, the companies aim to end mobile dead zones and provide connectivity wherever the sky is clearly visible, even in the middle of the ocean.
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