Earlier this year, the FCC gave SpaceX permission to launch 4,425 low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, and on Friday it signed off on another 7,518.
These 11,943 satellites - between 220 and 1,100 pounds in size - will form the expansive Starlink broadband network, created to provide worldwide high speed internet access by ensuring that at least one satellite is always above the horizon for anyone on Earth.
In a statement, FCC chair Ajit Pai said: "I'm excited to see what these services might promise and what these proposed constellations have to offer". This forms part of Elon Musk's ambition to provide broadband internet access to the world. The project is expected to cost $10 billion to develop, and SpaceX aims to have the constellation operational by the mid-2020s, the Verge reported.
The new satellites will be in addition to SpaceX's existing ones (which includes a set of around 4,000 satellites) already launched into the sky, under the company's Starlink program launched in February.
"After review of the record, we conclude that granting of the SpaceX application will serve the public interest", subject to conditions related to power levels, avoidance of interference with other systems, and prevention of space debris, the FCC said. Within five years of their launch into orbit, NASA estimated that nearly all of the Starlink satellites will need to be taken out of commission or they risk dramatically increasing in-space collisions.
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As of now, there are only 1,886 active satellites present in the Earth orbit.
Telesat has one of two prototypes in orbit after an Indian PSLV launch in January (the first was destroyed in a November 2017 Soyuz rocket failure), and received FCC approval for a 117-satellite Ka-band constellation previous year. Half of the satellites must be placed into space within 6 years and the rest within 9 years.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp.is granted permission from US regulators to deploy over 7,000 satellites.
"While there are still issues to be explored, including communications with [Earth stations in motion] and orbital debris, and policy calls that we may not have gotten quite right, such as how we handle in-line interference, the commission continues to take necessary steps to allow investment and future deployment of these ambitious projects", O'Rielly said.
In May, DARPA announced a $117.5 million project to adapt Starlink's technology for spy and navigation satellites to replace the USA military's aging fleet of giant and expensive satellites, which it fears are vulnerable to interception or interruption by hostile powers such as Russian Federation and China in the event of conflict. Development of the Starlink satellites began in 2015. If the SpaceX is able to launch all the proposed satellites to space, the number will increase six-fold.