SpaceX requests lower orbits for satellites

SpaceX seeks to modify Starlink regulatory license

SpaceX recently submitted an application to the Federal Communication Commission proposing to operate more satellites in lower orbits than the FCC previously authorized.

The first phase of the Starlink network will include 1,584 satellites orbiting 341 miles (550 kilometers) above Earth. That part of the constellation, which SpaceX intends to launch through the end of the year, remains unchanged in SpaceX’s application.

SpaceX previously had regulatory approval from the FCC to operate another 2,825 satellites in higher orbits between 690 miles (1,110 kilometers) and 823 miles (1,325 kilometers) in altitude.

The modified plan submitted to the FCC by SpaceX foresees Ku-band and Ka-band satellites in the next phase of the Starlink network all operated at altitudes between 335 miles (540 kilometers) and 354 miles (570 kilometers). The application covers 4,408 Starlink satellites.

SpaceX’s motivation for lower altitude request:

-Will put the satellites closer to Starlink consumers.

-Allow for more rapid deployment of the network.

-The spacecraft will broadcast signals at reduced power levels because they are closer to Earth, which SpaceX said will allow the Starlink fleet to be compliant with limits to reduce radio interference with other satellite and terrestrial wireless networks.

-The change will also improve Starlink service for U.S. government users in polar regions.

-Help ensure they re-enter the atmosphere a shorter time in case of failure.

SpaceX has regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission to eventually field a fleet of up to 12,000 small Starlink broadband stations.

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