The SpaceX Starlink arrangement may end up almost 4 times bigger than what the company originally planned. The SpaceNews reported the company has asked the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) for permission to access the spectrum for 30,000 more Starlink satellites. SpaceX introduced Starlink as a space-based internet network comprised of 12,000 satellites when it first launched the project. The ITU and the U.S FCC (Federal Communications Commission) already approved the company’s request for spectrum access for those 12,000 units. The new batch of requests is for 30,000 more units.
It is noteworthy that the FCC submitted a total of 20 filings to the ITU. Each of them is asking permission for 1,500 satellites in various Low Earth Orbits. SpaceX needs to place them in orbits between 204 and 360 miles in altitude. MIT’s Technology Review notes have indicated that it could be a cause for concern. Roger Thompson of Aerospace Corporation informed the publication that it’s also where we tend to fly crewed spacecraft while that area of space is cleanest, including the ISS. He added that flooding the area with thousands of satellites will have an impact on future human spaceflight.
Thompson also said that asking permission for 30,000 satellites doesn’t mean the Starlink project will actually launch a total of 42,000 units. Some of the company’s critics believe that the filings are just a ploy to drown the ITU in studies now that it’s on the verge of changing its rules. Moreover, filing with the ITU is just the first step in a very long process, whether that’s true or not. SpaceX has 7 years to launch a satellite with its requested frequencies. It will have to operate it for 90 days before it loses access to the spectrum rights. Point to be noted that the company successfully launched the first 60 Starlink satellites into orbit during the current year.