SpaceX wants to place 30,000 new satellites in orbit

SpaceX wants to place 30,000 new satellites in orbit

Science

The International Telecommunications Union has just received a request from SpaceX for permission to place 30,000 new satellites in space as part of its Starlink project.

One of Elon Musk’s many projects is to provide the world with cheap broadband internet access. And to do this, he intends to rely on a constellation of satellites called Starlink. The FCC – the Federal Communications Commission that manages the telecommunications sector in the United States – has already authorized SpaceX to place more than 12,000 interconnected satellites in this project.

Last May, the first sixty satellites were placed in orbit. A little more than 1,500 should be launched by 2024 and about 2,200 by 2027. The rest will follow afterwards, but the timetable is not yet established.

More than 12,000 new satellites placed at altitudes between 328 and 580 km, it is already huge. But it seems that SpaceX sees even bigger.

30,000 new satellites
Applications for authorization filed with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) suggest that Elon Musk plans to send an additional 30,000 satellites in the coming years. All in low Earth orbit. The FCC is said to have received more than 20 files each dealing with 1,500 new satellites.

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SpaceX, for its part, recently justified itself with SpaceNews: in the face of the growing demand for fast and reliable Internet around the world, especially for those where connectivity is inexistent, too expensive or unreliable, we take measures to responsibly adapt Starlink’s total network capacity and data density to meet the expected growth in user needs.

Establish new rules
According to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, there are currently 4,987 satellites around our planet. Of this sample, about 1,900 are still operational. If SpaceX is allowed to place its 42,000 new satellites (12,000 + 30,000), the company would multiply by five, alone, the number of these instruments in space.

It remains to be seen whether all these requests will be satisfied. It is very likely that no. It is surely for this reason that several files have been made. In any case, if the International Telecommunication Union is in charge of preventing interference and interconnection of communication networks, it will also be a question of assessing the next risk of collision.

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The space is indeed already crowded. But it will be even more so in the coming years. Just a few weeks ago, the European Space Agency (ESA) had to maneuver to prevent one of its instruments from hitting a SpaceX satellite. The main operators operating in the space sector will have to propose new rules in order to secure the traffic above our heads.