Elon Musk’s private aerospace company, SpaceX, recently filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch thousands of new satellites – more than are already orbiting our planet.
The application, which was filed on November 15, is for the launch of 4,425 satellites. Based on the findings of the Union of Concerned Scientists, there are currently less than 1,500 satellites orbiting our planet. Notably, there are also an estimated 2,600 satellites floating around in space that are no longer functional, Business Insider reports.
While the company has now filed the necessary documentation for the project, which essentially entails a small constellation of low Earth orbit satellites, Space News reports that it is presently unverifiable whether the company has submitted the proper documentation with the United Nations agency that regulates orbital slots, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). However, Musk was quoted by Space News as having said during an announcement pertaining to the launch of a satellite factory in Seattle that the company has taken care of the ITU filings.
“There’s the ITU filings and we’ve done the filings associated with that.”
As the International Telecommunication Union provides the first to register for an orbital or radio frequency slot priority, SpaceX will have to wait in line if another entity has already registered for slots they’ve requested.
As Space News points out, the announcement made by Musk came on the heels of news from OneWeb LLC that both Qualcomm and Virgin Galactic are now backing their 650-satellite system.
In its filing, SpaceX noted the UNESCO Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development report from July of 2016 that indicates 57-percent of the people on this planet are without Internet access and while their lack of connectivity comes as the result of a variety of different reasons, one underlying theme for many is the lack of either affordable access or a complete lack of connectivity. And this is where the company’s idea of, to use Musk’s own words, “rebuilding the Internet in space” comes into play. The quote being how he previously described the project, according to The Washington Post.
What do you think of SpaceX’s idea of blanketing the Earth with internet access?