Citing new satellite constellations that plan to collectively launch thousands of new satellites into Earth orbit, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to update its regulations on space debris for the first time in 15 years.
“Proposed deployments of large satellite constellations in the intensely used LEO region, along with other satellites deployed in the LEO region, will have the potential to increase the risk of debris-generating events,” the FCC said in a notice in the Federal Register. “New satellite and deployment technologies currently in use and under development also may increase the number of potential debris-generating events, in the absence of improved debris mitigation practices.”
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has applied for permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate up to one million Earth stations to serve its Starlink constellation of 4,425 Ku- and Ka-band communications satellites it plans to begin launching later this year.
“These user terminals employ advanced phased-array beam-forming and digital processing technologies to make highly efficient use of Ku-band spectrum resources by supporting highly directive, steered antenna beams that track the system’s low-Earth orbit satellites,” SpaceX said in its application.
The Earth stations would be deployed in the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, “including areas underserved or currently unserved by existing networks,” the company wrote.
“As the Commission has recognized, many communities across the United States and the world still lack access to reliable broadband connectivity, preventing them from fully participating in economic, social, and civic activities,” the application stated.
“To help close this digital divide, SpaceX is designing, constructing, and deploying an innovative, cost-effective and spectrum-efficient satellite system capable of delivering robust broadband service to customers around the world. SpaceX has already secured U.S. authority for the space station components of its NGSO [non-geosynchronous orbit] system,” the document said.
SpaceX constellation includes 7,518 satellite Internet spacecraft
Three other approved constellations total 335 satellites
WASHINGTON, November 15, 2018 (FCC PR) — The Federal Communications Commission today approved the requests of four companies—Space Exploration Holdings, LLC (SpaceX), Kepler Communications, Inc. (Kepler), Telesat Canada (Telesat), and LeoSat MA, Inc. (LeoSat)—seeking to roll-out new and expanded services using proposed non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) satellites.
These proposed satellite systems are expected to enable fixed satellite service in the United States, expanding global connectivity and advancing the goals of increasing high-speed broadband availability and competition in the marketplace.
Testimony of Greg Wyler Founder and Executive Chairman, Worldu Satellites Limited (OneWeb)
Before Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology Oct. 25, 2017
This is a great time to discuss our progress as we are investing over $4 billion to build the world’s first large scale satellite constellation, and will begin launching our fleet in the coming months.