SpaceX Wants to Rearrange Its Starlink Satellites for Faster Broadband Ramp-Up

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An artist’s conception shows the deployment of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites. (SpaceX Illustration)

GeekWire has the details:

SpaceX is seeking approval from the Federal Communications Commission for changes in the spacing of its Starlink broadband satellites, in order to extend internet services to a wider swath of the United States on a faster timetable.

“This adjustment will accelerate coverage to southern states and U.S. territories, potentially expediting coverage to the southern continental United States by the end of the next hurricane season and reaching other U.S. territories by the following hurricane season,” SpaceX said in an application filed on Aug. 30 and accepted last week.

If SpaceX follows that schedule, Starlink coverage could be available throughout the 48 contiguous U.S. states by November 2020, when next year’s hurricane season ends.

The implication is that the adjustment would serve the public interest because territories in the potential path of a hurricane, such as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, could have Starlink’s satellite broadband service available to them sooner than previously planned.

SpaceX emphasized that the shift in spacing wouldn’t require a change in the satellites’ authorized altitude or inclination, their operational characteristics or the effect on orbital debris. Instead, the 1,584 satellites covered in the application at issue would be shifted around in their orbits, tripling the number of orbital planes (to 72) but cutting the number of satellites in each plane by two-thirds (to 22).

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