The Federal Trade Commission (FCC) has authorized SpaceX to deploy up to 7,500 new communications satellites from its Starlink network. Something to reassure its customers… and annoy astronomers.
There are already 3271 Starlink satellites in orbit, and SpaceX will finally be able to go much further: Federal Trade Commission (FTC, Federal Trade Commission) has just given the green light to Elon Musk’s company to send up to 7,500 new satellites. Enough to quadruple its Starlink constellation and thus meet increasingly pressing bandwidth needs – whether in its new air and maritime services or to its existing customers.
Thanks to this authorization, SpaceX will strengthen its space network offering established in LEO orbit (low Earth orbit, low Earth orbit). But the FTC did not give carte blanche to SpaceX since the original request was for 30,000 units. The “critical mass” assessed by the company to have a 100% secure and redundant network.
Also read: Thanks to SpaceX, private jets will enjoy Netflix 4K at 30,000 feet (Oct 2022)
This new authorization will allow SpaceX not only to strengthen its network with numbers, but also with power. As the FCC notes, its decision “ will allow SpaceX to launch 2e starlink generation “. A highly anticipated second generation because it tenfolds the performance of the previous one.
While Gen 1 is 2.8 m long and 1.4 m wide, Gen 2 of these communication satellites will be 7 m long and 3 m wide. Larger dimensions, which of course are paid for by a greater weight of 1.25 tons, against 295 kg for the v1.5 now in operation (v1.0 weighed 260 kg). The Falcon 9 rocket will therefore launch far fewer units per flight, but SpaceX will undoubtedly make more logical use of the Falcon Heavy version. The first has “only” 22.8 tons of payload in low orbit versus 63.8 tons for the Falcon Heavy (a Falcon 9 supported by two boosters). There is no doubt that, in addition to the conquest of Mars, it is also the faster consolidation of Starlink that motivates SpaceX engineers to complete the development of the even more powerful Starship (more than 100 tons).
Also read: War in Ukraine: Elon Musk and SpaceX no longer want to pay for Starlinks given to Ukrainians (Oct. 2022)
With more than half a million subscribers, SpaceX is already a tech hit that got a big boost during the first phase of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainians make innovative use of high-speed Internet connectivity in the way they conduct military operations. A great publicity stunt for Mr. Musk’s company, which recently took umbrage with his decision (since rescinded) to stop providing free bandwidth to the Kiev government. Or the very significant increase in equipment and service prices in this country.
The launch of 7,500 satellites, even larger than the previous generation, should not please astronomers, both professionals and amateurs. The presence of more than 3000 objects in this low orbit has already been condemned many times by the scientific community due to the interference they create during sky observation sequences.