Elon Musk’s SpaceX gets nod to launch 12,000 broadband satellites


Moscow: Elon Musk’s SpaceX got approvals from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to put nearly 12,000 broadband satellites into orbit that would foster cheap wireless Internet access by the 2020s.

In March, the FCC permitted SpaceX to launch 4,425 low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, and on Friday allowed another 7,518.

This constellation of 11,943 satellites— weighing between 220 and 1,100 pounds— will form the expansive Starlink broadband network. Designed to provide worldwide internet access, which means one satellite is always above for anyone on Earth.

“It will offer high-speed internet in remote areas and global connectivity through ‘routers in space’ for data backhaul. I’m excited to see what services these constellations have to offer,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said.

Starlink is SpaceX’s ambitious project to provide constant global internet coverage from orbit. The project would cost USD 10 billion to develop, and SpaceX aims a fully operational constellation by the mid-2020s.

Out of 12,000 satellites in orbit, SpaceX launched only two test satellites— TinTin A and B—in February. But, the company has increased its launch capacity in 2018, with four more scheduled for a total of 22 launches.

On Monday, its payloads expanded with the launch of 71 probes for various enterprises on Falcon 9 rocket—“SmallSat Express”.

Besides SpaceX, the FCC also approved three other companies with much smaller projects. The list includes 140 satellites for Kepler, 117 for Telesat and 78 for LeoSat.

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