In November last year, SpaceX submitted a request to the FCC to modify part of its company's Starlink satellite Internet constellation program. Under SpaceX's initial agreement with the committee, the company was allowed to launch 4,425 Starlink satellites into orbit between 1110 and 1325 kilometers above the ground. Later, however, SpaceX decided to put 1584 of its first two test satellites, TinTin A and Tin Tin B, into different orbits. It is reported that the company now wants to reduce the altitude of the satellite to 550 kilometers.
Now the FCC has approved the plan. Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, said in a statement that the approval highlighted the FCC's confidence in SpaceX's next-generation satellite constellation plan. It is learnt that this plan will provide reliable and inexpensive broadband services for global users.
SpaceX believes that with this adjustment, the signal delay of Starlink satellites will be greatly reduced, and the transmission time will be reduced to 15 milliseconds. Lower orbits also mean that SpaceX can get the same coverage with fewer 16 satellites, a change that the company points out will help reduce space debris. In addition, at an altitude of 550 kilometers means that the satellite will be more affected by the Earth's atmosphere and will be pulled out of orbit much faster than satellites at high altitudes. Therefore, if any Starlink satellite fails and fails to operate, it will be out of orbit and soon burn up in the atmosphere.
But not everyone is happy with SpaceX's latest plan. 另一家开发大型卫星互联网网络的公司OneWeb和卫星运营商Kepler Communications都提交了请愿书，希望废除SpaceX向FCC提出的变更请求。 Both companies believe that because SpaceX uses similar frequencies to theirs, if Starlink satellites are moved to lower orbits, their satellites may be disrupted. Ultimately, however, the FCC does not see interference as a problem. The FCC wrote in its approval document: "We found that there was no major interference in the amendment proposed by SpaceX and that it was in the public interest."
There are also concerns that, because other operators have satellites in similar orbits, the risk of collision will increase if the altitude of the satellite is changed. However, according to the FCC, SpaceX provided the Committee with a statement that its satellites would not pose a risk because they would be equipped with propellers to avoid satellites approaching in orbit.
However, there is not much time left for SpaceX to make its Starlink constellation plan a reality. The FCC's approval of the constellation plan is conditional on SpaceX launching at least half of these satellites in the next six years. SpaceX said in its November paper that the plan would be completed by the deadline. "Starlink production is proceeding smoothly and the first batch of satellites have arrived at the launch site for processing," Shotwell said in a statement. SpaceX plans to launch the first Starlink satellites sometime next month at Cape Canaveral, Florida.