SpaceX Wins FCC Approval to Deploy 7,518 Satellites for Broadband Communications

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base in October 2018.                  Getty Images

Space exploration company, SpaceX has gotten approval from the United States (US) Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to build a full network of about 12,000 satellites meant to blanket the earth for wireless Internet access.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has two test satellites aloft, and it earlier won permission for a separate set of 4,425 satellites - which like the 7,518 satellites authorized Thursday are created to provide broadband communications.

Satellite communications have been in use for decades but Internet access through the technology is slow and expensive, largely because the satellites responsible for ferrying data to and from the ground orbit are at great distances from the earth, increasing lag.

"Our approach to these applications reflects this commission's fundamental approach to encourage the private sector to invest and to innovate and allow market forces to deliver value to American consumers".

Last month, reports said Musk fired some of the senior managers on the satellite constellation project, known as Starlink, at SpaceX's office in Redmond, Wash., because of disagreements over the speed of developing and testing the satellites. The project would cost Dollars 10 billion to develop, and SpaceX aims a fully operational constellation by the mid-2020s.

Putting the system into operation is expected between 2023 and 2025, and the conclusion spacecraft into orbit company SpaceX will conduct with the help of rockets, the Falcon 9.

In March, the FCC approved another 4,425 SpaceX low-orbit satellites for a system it calls Starlink. In November 2018, the FCC approved the requests of four companies-Space Exploration Holdings, LLC (SpaceX), Kepler Communications, Inc. "It is a problem that's getting magnified in low Earth orbit by the proliferation" of small satellites. In total, the Starlink network will have 11,943 satellites orbiting Earth.

"I'm excited to see what services these proposed constellations have to offer", said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in an email statement. The three companies will launch 117,78 and 140 satellites respectively. The 16-year-old company is best known for sending heavy commercial loads into orbit with reusable rockets that have changed the dynamics and financials of how the largest rockets in the world are deployed. SpaceX has said it plans to launch its first batch of satellites before the end of next year. "Accordingly, we condition grant of the application on SpaceX presenting and the Commission granting a modification of this space station grant to include a final orbital debris mitigation plan".

Telecommunications giant Intelsat, which operates 50 geostationary satellites, chose a different option and signed a contract with Space Logistics, a branch of Northrop Grumman, for its MEV, a "very simple system" vice president Ken Lee told AFP is much like a "tow truck".

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