by Jason Rainbow — May 2, 2022
TAMPA, Fla. — Evidence is mounting of a need to perform an environmental review before approving SpaceX’s plans to add nearly 30,000 satellites to its Starlink constellation, satellite broadband competitor Viasat told the FCC May 2.
SpaceX shouldn’t be allowed to greatly expand its Starlink network while light pollution issues surrounding its deployed satellites remain unresolved, Jarrett Taubman, Viasat vice president and deputy chief of government affairs, said in a letter to the regulator.
While calls for a thorough environmental review that Viasat made for Starlink’s current generation of satellites in December 2020 were largely rejected, Taubman said SpaceX’s plan to grow the constellation by seven times “would have significant aesthetic, scientific, social and cultural, and health effects on the human environment on Earth.”
SpaceX has already deployed more than half of the 4,408 first-generation Starlink satellites the FCC has approved to operate at altitudes of around 550 kilometers. The company is seeking FCC permission for a larger constellation of second-generation Starlinks that it proposes to operate at lower altitudes — between 340 and 614 kilometers — in order to improve performance.
Viasat and astronomers say operating significantly more satellites even closer to the Earth would exacerbate Starlink’s light pollution.