The initial plan of the SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company, was to launch 12 thousand Starlink satellites until 2024, to create a space broadband internet network that will serve rural areas with no connection. The company has now requested authorization from the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) to send more 30 thousand units to space.
The FCC (Federal Communications Commission), the US agency that corresponds to our Anatel, sent 20 records to ITU; each record asks for permission to send 1,500 satellites in low Earth orbits – between 328 km and 580 km in altitude.
The records were sent separately because, according to a critical analyst at SpaceX, the ITU would not be able to analyze all files at the same time in a timely manner. Sending them separately ensures some progress on the project.
The concern is that this is an area where it is customary to send manned ships; sharing space with 42,000 satellites can have an impact on manned flights.
According to UNOOSA (United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs), there are already 8,700 satellites, probes, landers, manned spaceships, cargo vessels and flight elements launched in space since 1957. With 42,000 additional SpaceX units , the company will be responsible for the fivefold increase in the number of ships already launched by humanity.
Hold on, Elon Musk.
SpaceX has 60 Starlink satellites in space
In May, SpaceX took 60 satellites from the Starlink project into space. It was the company’s heaviest payload, with each piece of equipment weighing approximately 227 kg, totaling 18.5 tons on the ship.
Astronomers have already expressed their concern about the effects of light reflected from the satellites. Elon Musk went on to clarify on Twitter that the equipment will not have an impact on astronomy’s discoveries.
The plan to bring 1 Gb / s internet to rural areas will initially serve the Northern United States and Canada. The Starlink project already foresees six more launches by the end of the year.
Global coverage would be complete after 24 launches, but that was when the plan was to take only 12,000 satellites. Records sent to the ITU do not say when SpaceX wants to launch the additional 30,000 satellites.