SpaceX’s LEOS Plan Running Into Opposition

Elon Musk's company is requesting a temporary waiver from the FCC’s time limits for putting the satellite system into full operation July 24, 2017

HAWTHORNE, Calif. — SpaceX’s plan to provide global broadband internet access using thousands of satellites in low-earth orbit has come under fire from competitors, including Boeing and OneWeb. (We previously covered both companies’ plans in Radio magazine Today, here and here.)

A SpaceX satellite coverage scheme described in a patent application envisions two sets of satellites orbiting in different inclinations at different altitudes, according to geekwire.com.

SpaceX is requesting a temporary waiver from the FCC’s time limits for putting the satellite system into full operation. The FCC would typically require the system to provide full coverage of U.S. territory within six years of a license being issued, but SpaceX says that’s not enough time to deploy the full 4,425-satellite constellation. Instead, the company proposes launching the first 1,600 satellites over six years, which would leave the northernmost part of Alaska without coverage when the deadline hits. Full U.S. coverage would be provided after the six-year deadline.

SpaceX’s competitors are urging the FCC not to waive the six-year requirement, and are calling for further study to make sure SpaceX’s satellites won’t interfere with their own. The FCC recently granted OneWeb regulatory approval to operate in the United States — and said that 11 other applicants were planning low-Earth-orbit constellations to provide broadband internet service — including SES/O3b, Intelsat, Boeing, ViaSat, Telesat, Audacy, Karousel LLC, Space Norway, Theia Holdings and LeoSat, according to the same article.

Both SpaceX and OneWeb have said they intend to start getting their satellites launched within the next year or so, with the first phase of operations due to begin in 2019.

 

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