On April 28, SpaceX successfully launched another group of 60 Starlink satellites into low-earth orbit. As a result, the constellation already numbers 1,503 satellites, and if we count with the two test vehicles Microsat-2A and Microsat-2B, launched in 2018, then there are already 1,505 of them – and this is far from the limit. This week, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave SpaceX permission to operate 2,814 vehicles, and to operate them in a lower orbit than originally planned. This decision can be considered a victory for SpaceX over competitors: Amazon and OneWeb sought to prevent its issuance, as they feared that the launch of so many Starlink satellites into a lower orbit would lead to frequency interference and increase the risk of collisions between the vehicles.
The FCC considered that the placement of Starlink satellites in a lower orbit “will not create serious problems with interference“. The decision of the regulator says that lowering the orbit will allow SpaceX to make faster “safety oriented»Changes to grouping. For example, replacing damaged or inoperative satellites with new ones. True, there are a number of conditions in the approval. So, SpaceX must coordinate with other operators, and will also have to provide the FCC with semi-annual reports of failures in the Starlink system. The reports will contain data on any events or maneuvers associated with other satellites.
With 1,500 satellites in orbit, SpaceX has the largest constellation at the moment – competitors are very far from Elon Musk’s company. So, OneWeb launched 182 of the planned 648 satellites, and the Kuiper network, behind which Amazon stands, has not been launched at all, although last year it received approval to launch 3,236 satellites into space by 2026.
Recall that SpaceX received permission to operate its first group of 1,584 satellites in 2019. Almost all of them are already in orbit, so the new FCC decision is the key to further systematic expansion of the constellation, expanding the coverage area and increasing the data transfer rate. So, within a year, the data transfer rate in the Starlink system should increase to 300 Mbit / s, and the satellite Internet itself will turn from stationary to mobile.