The FCC has permitted SpaceX to adjust its planned orbits for its Starlink mega-constellation.
SpaceX had asked for permission to create orbits in 72 rings around the planet at orbital heights of 550 kms, and this is three-times the previously allowed plan. Each ring will now contain 22 satellites instead of the previous 66 and thus permit SpaceX to populate each ring more speedily.
SpaceX will place a total of 1584 satellites into these orbital rings and already has 120 in orbit. Overall, SpaceX wants 12,000 satellites in orbit although the bulk of these extra satellites will operate at both higher and lower altitudes than the initial 1584.
SpaceX will launch another 60 satellites later this month.
“Grant of this application will allow SpaceX to accelerate the deployment of its satellite constellation to deliver broadband service throughout the United States, especially to those who live in areas underserved or unserved by terrestrial systems,” said the FCC in its decision.
It is also expected that this new permission will allow SpaceX to start commercial operations later in 2020 in some key ‘Hurricane’ states in the South and East of the US.