Elon Musk’s SpaceX to put 12,000 satellites in orbit

Joanna Estrada
November 17, 2018

Authorisation comes as SpaceX successfully launched its 18th rocket into space from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday, with a Falcon 9 rocket lifting Qatar's Es'hail 2 communications satellite into orbit.

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell has noted the market for telecommunications services is dramatically bigger than the market for launch services, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said satellite service revenue would help fund his vision of building a city on Mars. The FCC granted OneWeb access to the USA market in 2017, and OneWeb's first satellites could be launched from Arianespace's spaceport in French Guiana as early as next February.

SpaceX "proposes to add a very-low Earth orbit (VLEO) NGSO [non-geostationary satellite orbit] constellation, consisting of 7,518 satellites operating at altitudes from 335km to 346km", the FCC said in the draft of the order that it approved unanimously today.

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"The Commission's action provides SpaceX with additional flexibility to provide both diverse geographic coverage and the capacity to support a wide range of broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental, and professional users in the United States and globally", said the FCC's statement.

The FCC gave SpaceX approval the next month for its first 4,400 satellites. Proponents say next-generation satellite Internet technology could help developing countries and rural areas connect to economic opportunities now out of reach for them because they lack competitive Internet access. Kepler plans to offer global connectivity for the IoT using the 10.7-12.7 GHz and 14.0-14.5 GHz frequency bands.

"W$3 hile we appreciate the level of detail and analysis that SpaceX has provided for its orbital-debris mitigation and end-of-life disposal plans, we conclude that the unprecedented number of satellites proposed by SpaceX and the other NGSO FSS [fixed-satellite service] systems in this processing round will necessitate a further assessment of the appropriate reliability standards of these spacecraft, as well as the reliability of these systems' methods for deorbiting the spacecraft", the FCC said.

Telesat's system, to consist of 117 satellites, is also licensed by Canada.

U.S. market access was also given to Washington DC-based LeoSat to operate its 78 NGSO satellites in the 17.8-18.6 GHz, 18.8-19.4 GHz, 19.6-20.2 GHz, 27.5- 29.1 GHz, and 29.5-30.0 GHz frequency bands. LeoSat's proposed NGSO system consists of 78 satellites, which will operate under the ITU filings of France and a planned authorization from the Netherlands. More requests for constellations are being processed.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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