Elon Musk’s SpaceX has got approvals from the US authorities on Friday to launch a constellation of about 12,000 satellites into orbit, designed to provide cheap wireless network access by 2020.
Several news reported that the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had granted permission to launch 4,425 low Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites in March this year. Another 7,518 Sputnik got the approval on Friday.
The SpaceX network would widely multiply the number of satellites around the planet, forming an expansive Starlink Broadband Network, the Verge reported.
Since ‘Sputnik’, the world’s first satellite was launched in 1957, more than 8,000 objects have been sent to the space, as reported by United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. Between a quarter and a half of those things are believed to be still functional.
While only two of the SpaceX’s satellites has launched recently, TinTin A and B, FCC offered six years to Elon Musk’s company to put half of the satellite into orbit and another nine years to complete the entire satellite network. The project is estimated to have a total cost of $10 billion for the development.
SpaceX is planning to make the satellites fly in low Earth orbit, just about 208-215 miles high, putting them below the International Space Station that orbits nearly 250 miles above the planet.
According to the company, the low orbit will enable to increase the surfing speeds as it shortens the communication between internet users on Earth and the space-travelling satellites. SpaceX’s satellites are expected to be similar size, ranging between 220 and 1100 pounds, enabling to put all of them at its existing launch pace.
However, it may be difficult to maintain the low altitude and smaller satellites usually have shorter life than bigger ones, news reported.
In addition to SpaceX’s huge operation, the FCC has authorized three other companies to launch their satellites including 140 satellites for Kepler, 78 for LeoSat, and 117 for Telesat. In total, the FCC permitted the placing of nearly 7,859 man-made objects into orbit on Friday.
According to NASA, in addition to functional objects that might collide, there are about 500,000 junk flying around the space which are small and can’t be tracked. Due to the space junk issue, the agency has also asked SpaceX to provide debris mitigation plans.