An approval was revealed this week by the FCC for SpaceX and their next wave of Starlink satellites. The approval was for a modification to the license SpaceX holds for deploying satellites to an altitude of 550 kilometers. Per the release, the FCC suggests that “Based on our review, we agree with SpaceX that the modification will improve the experience for users of the SpaceX service, including in often-underserved polar regions.”
Multiple organizations objected to the deployment of SpaceX satellites in orbit at a new lower altitude. It was claimed that there was significant threat of interference issues with already in-play elements at the new altitude. Per the FCC’s assessment under Commission precedent, the FCC found that SpaceX’s modification “will not present significant interference problems.”
Specifically the FCC said that this modification would not result in new interference to other NGSO systems “in certain areas where previously interference did not exist.” SpaceX claims that their new deployment will help to rectify scarcity of internet connectivity in areas like Alaska. With Starlink service, SpaceX says they’ll be able to “finally bring ubiquitous internet connectivity within reach for these areas.”
SES/O3b, Juiper, Viasat, Kepler, DISH, and OneWeb all maintain that the SpaceX Third Modification “is a complete redesign of SpaceX’s authorized system that will substantially increase interference into other systems.” The FCC approval document notes that SpaceX claims that its system will not increase interference, and that it, “far from increasing interference into other systems, will in fact improve the overall interference environment.”
Per the agreement, SpaceX must launch 50% of the maximum number of proposed space stations, place them in orbit (in their assigned places), and “operate them in accordance with the station authorization” by March 29, 2024. SpaceX must also report to the FCC if during any “continuous one-year period” there are three or more satellite disposal failures.