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Starlink adds 52; opens up for Iran

September 26, 2022

By Chris Forrester

September 24th saw Elon Musk’s SpaceX launch an additional 52 Starlink satellites (mission 4.35) into orbit at 7.32pm Florida time. Musk’s business also responded to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s request to advance internet freedom and the free flow of information to Iran.

Musk said last week that Starlink, which is already available to Ukraine, would need a sanctions exception to be available to Iran. Iran last week shut down the nation’s web access following mass protests following the death of a young woman in the custody of morality police.

A US Treasury official, briefing reporters, said: “Our understanding of Starlink is that what they provide would be commercial grade, and it would be hardware that’s not covered in the general licence; so that would be something they would need to write into Treasury for.”

Not quite, implied the US State Department. Speaking on September 23rd, a spokesperson said that Musk’s Starlink was self-executing and that “anyone who meets the criteria outlined in this general licence can proceed with their activities without requesting additional permissions.”

The State Department clarified its view on Iran saying if SpaceX were to determine that some activity aimed at Iranians requires a specific license. “OFAC [the Office of Foreign Assets Control – Sanctions Programme] would welcome it and prioritise it. By the same token, if SpaceX determines that its activity is already authorised and has any questions, OFAC also welcomes that engagement,” the State Department spokesperson said.

As to the Starlink global service, it is now available to more than 40 nations and territories. Last week it added Antarctica with a new terminal added to the McMurdo Station for the US National Science Foundation.

Following the latest batch of 52 being added to the Starlink fleet, Musk’s team now has around 3,000 satellites functioning and another 500 being slowly moved to their correct orbital positions.

Categories: Articles, Broadband, Satellite

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