Musk nears FCC LEO orbit approval
April 26, 2021
Elon Musk is getting closer to winning FCC approval to fly some of his Starlink low Earth orbiting (LEO) satellites at even lower heights.
Acting FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has asked her board colleagues to formally vote on the plan having herself endorsed the idea.
SpaceX is already licensed to operate 1,584 of its Starlink satellites at between 540-570 kms (335-354 miles) above the Earth. Musk has asked the FCC to approve a scheme to fly an additional 2,824 satellites at that same height.
If the FCC approves the move, it would mean that Starlink would be operating just below the heights already granted to Jeff Bezos and his Project Kuiper LEO fleet.
Project Kuiper – along with Viasat and OneWeb – are objecting to the move, with Viasat claiming in an interview with the FCC that to grant approval would be akin to “a bomb going off” because of the risk of collision.
SpaceX’s Starlink officials say that the lower orbits mean extra safety and easier de-orbiting and speedier atmospheric burn-up for failed satellites.
SpaceX is reported to be planning its next launch of Starlink satellites on April 28th, when another 60 will be orbited, taking the overall total of working craft above 1,400.