SpaceX gets nod to put 12,000 satellites in orbit

Published November 17, 2018
In this 2016 file photo, SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. — AP/File photo
In this 2016 file photo, SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. — AP/File photo

WASHINGTON: SpaceX got the green light this week from US authorities to put a constellation of nearly 12,000 satellites into orbit in order to boost cheap, wireless internet access by the 2020s.

The SpaceX network would vastly multiply the number of satellites around Earth.

Since the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik, was launched in 1957, humanity has sent just over 8,000 objects into space, according to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.

Between one quarter and one half of those are believed to still be operational.

On Thursday the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it had authorized SpaceX to launch 7,518 satellites, adding to 4,425 satellites it has already approved. None of the satellites has launched yet.

Elon Musk’s company has six years to put half in orbit, and nine years to complete the satellite network, according to FCC rules.

SpaceX wants most of the satellites to fly in low Earth orbit, about 208 to 215 miles (335 to 346 kilometres) high.

That would put them below the International Space Station, which orbits about 250 miles (400 kilometres) above Earth.

SpaceX’s interest in such a low orbit is to shorten the communication time between internet users on Earth and space-faring satellites, speeding up surfing speeds.

But this low altitude may be difficult to maintain and smaller satellites tend to have shorter lives than bigger ones.

The FCC has also authorised other companies to launch satellites, including Kepler (140 satellites), Telesat (117 satellites), and LeoSat (78 satellites).

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2018

Opinion

Courts & the poor
Updated 20 Jun 2021

Courts & the poor

Justice eludes those whose homes have been demolished.
No choice but to leave
20 Jun 2021

No choice but to leave

The influx of Afghan refugees into Pakistan is likely to increase again with the US withdrawal.
Cost of enforced modesty
Updated 19 Jun 2021

Cost of enforced modesty

By inviting mullahs to regulate biology textbooks the PTI government has put Pakistan in reverse gear.

Editorial

20 Jun 2021

More vaccines needed

THE vaccination rate in the country has slowed in recent days and could result in a crisis if not addressed...
20 Jun 2021

Balochistan protest

THE clashes outside the Balochistan Assembly on budget day were unfortunate. But they had been waiting to happen. ...
Silent victims
Updated 20 Jun 2021

Silent victims

THE deafening silence of political authorities, including leaders from the religious right, on the Mufti Azizur...
19 Jun 2021

NA peace — for now

AFTER a session of utter pandemonium and a distasteful war of words, normalcy finally returned to the National...
India uranium theft
Updated 19 Jun 2021

India uranium theft

REPORTS emerging from India about the theft of uranium and possible sale on the black market should be a cause for...
19 Jun 2021

KCR rigmarole

THURSDAY’S proceedings in the Supreme Court clearly demonstrated how divided the stakeholders are when it comes to...