FCC Gives OK To SpaceX for More Satellites

On December 19, 2019, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the application1 of Space Exploration Holdings, LLC (SpaceX) to further modify their previously authorized 4,425 non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) fixed-satellite service (FSS) satellite constellation using Ku- and Ka-band spectrum.

Specifically, the agency has now authorized SpaceX to increase the number of orbital planes authorized for operations of SpaceX’s satellites at the 550 kilometer (km.) orbital shell, to reduce the number of satellites in each orbital plane and to reconfigure existing satellites in its constellation accordingly.  In doing so, the FCC denies petitions to deny or defer SpaceX’s application3.

Grant of this application will allow SpaceX to accelerate the deployment of their satellite constellation to deliver broadband service throughout the United States, especially to those who live in areas underserved or unserved by terrestrial systems.

On April 26, 2019, the FCC’s International Bureau (Bureau) granted SpaceX’s request to modify its initial authorization and allowed SpaceX to: (1) reduce the number of satellites in the constellation from 4,425 to 4,409; (2) operate 1,584 satellites previously authorized to operate at an altitude of 1,150 km. at the lower altitude of 550 km.; and (3) make related changes to the operations of the satellites in this new lower shell of the constellation.

To read the entire FCC’s Order and Authorization, please access this infolink for the PDF document…

1Space Exploration Holdings, LLC, Request for Modification of the Authorization for the SpaceX NGSO Satellite System, IBFS File No. SAT−MOD−20190830−00087, filed August 30, 2019 (SpaceX Second Modification Application).

2See Space Exploration Holdings, LLC, Application for Approval for Orbital Deployment and Operating Authority for the SpaceX NGSO Satellite System, Memorandum Opinion, Order and Authorization, 33 FCC Rcd 3391 (2018) (SpaceX Authorization).

3Petition to Defer of SES Americom and O3b Limited (filed Oct. 15, 2019) (SES/O3b Petition); Letter from Nickolas G. Spina, Counsel to Kepler Communications, Inc., to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC (filed Oct. 15, 2019) (Kepler Letter).  Kepler’s Letter comprises (1) a petition for reconsideration of the SpaceX First Modification Order (as defined in n.4 below) (Kepler Letter, Recon Petition) (2) a petition to defer or deny this SpaceX Second Modification Application (Kepler Letter, Second Mod Petition), and (3) a petition to defer or deny SpaceX’s request for special temporary authority to launch its second tranche of satellites (Kepler Letter, STA Petition).

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