SpaceX gets nod to put 12,000 satellites in orbit

Credit FCC

"From providing high-speed broadband services in remote areas to offering global connectivity to the Internet of Things through "routers in space" for data backhaul, I'm excited to see what services these proposed constellations have to offer".

In its proposal approved Thursday, SpaceX says it plans to launch 7,518 satellites that would operate at altitudes ranging from 205 to 215 miles above the Earth.

"Our approach to these applications reflects this commission's fundamental approach: encourage the private sector to invest and innovate and allow market forces to deliver value to American consumers", Mr Pai added. But, the company has increased its launch capacity in 2018, with four more scheduled for a total of 22 launches.

The rest - which move at speeds of some 12-19,000 miles (20-30,000 kilometers) per hour - includes almost 3,000 inactive satellites, 2,000 pieces of rockets (such as the second stages of rockets) and thousands of fragments produced by two key events: the deliberate missile explosion of a Chinese satellite in 2007, and the 2009 collision of an Iridium satellite with an aging Russian one.

With up to 108 low-earth-orbit communications satellites in the constellation LeoSat is the first company to have all the High Throughput Satellites (HTS) in the constellation interconnected through laser links, creating an optical backbone in space which is about 1.5 times faster than terrestrial fiber backbones and without the need for any terrestrial touchpoints. However, last week, SpaceX requested permission to change the orbit height substantially to just 550km.

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. The company is planning to launch the first 4,425 satellites into the low-orbit of Earth, helping it to cut down on the latency.

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NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has repeatedly warned of the "growing threat" posed by orbital debris, and the U.S. military now tracks more than 500,000 individual pieces of flying space junk.

As of now, there are only 1,886 active satellites present in the Earth orbit. It gives concern to the FCC regarding the debris rules and other space matters issues.

When satellites run out of fuel, they can no longer maintain their precise orbit, rendering them useless even if their hardware is still intact.

Starlink's novelty has inspired the Pentagon, too, which seeks to pioneer a generation of cheap, disposable, lightweight satellites through its Blackjack program, spearheaded by the Defense Department's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Sputnik reported.

In recent years, new aerospace companies have been founded to try and extend the lifespan of satellites, on the hunch that many clients would find this more profitable than relaunching new ones. The first Starlink satellites should become operational by either 2019 or 2020.

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