SpaceX is close to a ‘de-factor monopolization’ of space due to its thousands of satellites, claims the head of the European space agency Arianespace.
The company owned by Elon Musk has asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to launch up to 42,000 satellites into space.
They are building the ‘Starlink’ constellation that will provide ‘reliable broadband’ to areas unable to access fiber optic broadband, sending each of the satellites into space with a rocket owned and operated by SpaceX.
“We want the space to remain accessible to human activities … but we refuse a space in the Wild West,” said Stéphane Israel, CEO of France-based Arianespace.
“It is really our responsibility to ensure that a low orbit (less than 1000 kilometers or 625 miles) above the Earth is sustainable in the long term,” he told the UN.
They base the monopoly claim on the fact that it can become difficult for others to launch on a large scale without creating the risk of radio interference or collision of two objects.
SpaceX is close to a ‘de-factor monopolization’ of space due to its thousands of satellites, claims the head of European space company Arianespace.
“We want the space to remain accessible to human activities … but we refuse a space in the Wild West,” said Stéphane Israel, CEO of France-based Arianespace, launch provider for OneWeb.
WHAT IS STARLINK?
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has more than 1,600 Starlink satellites orbiting Earth.
They will eventually form a constellation of thousands of satellites designed to provide low-cost broadband internet services.
The goal is to beam high-speed internet from the space in your home.
Although satellite internet has been around for a while, it has suffered from high latency and unreliable connections.
Starlink is different. SpaceX says placing a ‘constellation’ of satellites in low Earth orbit would provide super-fast internet around the world.
Musk has previously said that the company could provide an inexpensive way to get online for three billion people who currently do not have access to the Internet.
It could also help fund a future city on Mars.
In the US, the FCC welcomed the arrangement as a way to provide internet connectivity to more people.
Musk’s firm recently asked the FCC for permission for a total of 2,800 satellites to orbit 550 miles above Earth, the same region where Amazon has been approved to serve more than 1,000 satellites.
By the end of this decade, nearly 50,000 satellites could be in orbit, experts predict, with many in low Earth orbit.
SpaceX rivals have claimed that having so many of their satellites in a single orbit increases the chances of collisions and radio interference.
“SpaceX has already deployed 1,677 satellites for Starlink, which means that today, of all the satellites in operation, 35 percent are from one man: Elon Musk,” Israel said.
He said so many satellites in one region were a risk, and “very soon we could find ourselves in a catastrophic scenario that would make this orbit impractical.”
Israel said there was “ a risk of de-facto monopolization ” for Starlink as they were among the first to operate a constellation network, suggesting Musk is “ counting on ” that by securing the FCC’s green light for even more satellites. .
Arianespace is a joint venture between Airbus and Safran and operates in an industry that will be worth $ 26 billion by 2017. They have a contract to launch OneWeb satellites, which operate in higher orbit than SpaceX.
OneWeb will launch 36 satellites later today to take the company one step closer to the start of commercial services by the end of the year.
However, OneWeb plans to sell to other telecom companies rather than directly to consumers, giving an operator additional capacity in areas not served by fiber.
The other big player hoping to get into the industry before SpaceX develops a monopoly is Amazon, which has signed an agreement with United Launch Alliances to send more than 1,100 satellites into low Earth orbit.
They will operate in a similar orbit to the SpaceX satellites, forcing the two companies to agree to the risk of radio interference.
The Kuiper system was designed to avoid interference with Starlink, but that was compromised when SpaceX got permission from the FCC to use all of its satellites in its 340-mile orbit range.
They are building the ‘Starlink’ constellation that will provide ‘reliable broadband’ to areas unable to access fiber optic broadband, with each of the satellites being sent into space on a rocket owned and operated by SpaceX.
“Those changes not only create a more dangerous environment for space collisions, but they also increase radio interference for customers,” said Amazon.
Musk responded by saying it does not serve the public “ to hoard Starlink today for an Amazon satellite system that is at best several years after its inauguration. ”
Israel suggested that this dominance in that orbit and dominance in the launch sector that gives them a monopoly, “rather is what our competitor is counting on.”
In an effort to counter SpaceX’s dominance in the launch sector, the European Space Agency launched an initiative to study “ future space transportation solutions. ”
It involved giving $ 600,000 to ArianeGroup, Avio and Rocket Factory Augsburg to find more competitive launch systems.
Satellite operator Viasat calls for cessation of all SpaceX Starlink launches until an in-depth assessment of the environmental impact of the fast-growing mega-constellation is carried out
SpaceX may face a legal challenge from a rival satellite operator who has called for a halt to Starlink’s launches pending an environmental analysis of the mega constellation.
Broadband company Viasat on Friday called on the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to maintain a license modification that would allow Starlink’s expansion into low orbit.
The mega constellation, which promises to provide super-fast Internet access around the world, currently has more than 1,600 satellites.
To reduce the expected delay in the network, SpaceX has requested the FCC to approve a change to their original plans, which will put about 2,800 satellites in lower orbit.
Viasat plans to argue in federal court that the FCC should conduct an environmental impact assessment before authorizing this change.
The company’s concerns – reflected by scientists – included how the Starlink constellation affects astronomical observations.
Other environmental concerns include the megaconstellation’s potential to enlarge orbital debris and pollute the atmosphere through disintegrating satellites.