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SpaceX Gets FCC Clearance to Field 7,500 Satellites for Gen2 Starlink Constellation

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The Federal Communications Commission has granted SpaceX approval to build, deploy and operate up to 7,500 satellites for its second-generation Starlink constellation to provide satellite broadband service to customers across the U.S.

SpaceX originally applied to field nearly 30,000 non-geostationary orbit satellites for Gen2 Starlink but FCC decided to limit that number to 7,500 satellites to address concerns related to space safety and orbital debris, according to an order and authorization released Thursday.

The commission authorized SpaceX to use frequencies in the Ka- and Ku- bands, but deferred acting on the company’s request to use of E-band frequencies and tracking beacons.

FCC also set a number of conditions, such as requiring the company to report mitigation measures to prevent collisions in space, work with NASA to ensure availability of launch windows and delay launch of new spacecraft “if satellite failures exceed a certain threshold.”

“Our action also will enable worldwide satellite broadband service, helping to close the digital divide on a global scale. At the same time, this limited grant and associated conditions will protect other satellite and terrestrial operators from harmful interference and maintain a safe space environment, promoting competition and protecting spectrum and orbital resources for future use,” the commission said in the order.

SpaceX said in a statement the FCC authorization will allow the company to “add even more capacity to the network, ultimately enabling us to add customers and provide faster service,” according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

In April 2021, FCC approved SpaceX’s request for modification of its license for its Starlink network, allowing the company to move the operational altitude for its 2,814 satellites and reduce the number of spacecraft in its constellation, among other changes.