Viasat asks the FCC to stop launching Starlink because it is seeking a court ruling

SpaceX and L3 Harris have won contracts from the Space Development Agency to build missile warning satellites

Tampa, Florida – Satellite operator Fyasat has asked the Federal Communications Commission to prevent SpaceX from launching more Starlink satellites as it heads to court to enforce a comprehensive environmental analysis of the thriving megafauna.

Friday, Viasat is officially requested Federal Communications Commission To stay on April 27, the license change will allow SpaceX to continue building the broadband constellation, which already includes more than 1,600 satellites.

Starlink exceeded the number of satellites permitted under its previous license of 1584 satellites in 550 km of orbits shortly after the launch of a new batch of 52 satellites on May 15.

Viasat’s attempt to halt or at least slow Starlink’s expansion is based on convincing the Federal Court of Appeals that the FCC was legally required to assess the planet’s massive environmental impact before approving SpaceX’s request with more than twice the number of satellites it plans. Operating from 550 km.

Originally, the FCC approved a constellation of 4,409 satellites, including 2,825 satellites in an orbit from 1,100 to 1,300 km and 1,584 satellites in length of 550 km. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the SpaceX app on April 27 to amend this license, move satellites in higher orbits up to 550 km, and set the total size of the constellation to 4,408 satellites.

The company says it sought the mod to reduce the space-to-ground latency, or signal delay, to improve video calls, games, and other activities on the network.

In December, the FCC SpaceX awarded $ 890 million under the first phase of the Rural Digital Opportunities Fund (RDOF), which aims to provide broadband services to disadvantaged families and businesses in the United States. Low latency was an important criterion for receiving funding.

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Turn off Starlink

Of the more than 1,600 Starlink satellites in orbit, nearly 700 have been launched since January. The Falcon 9 launch, scheduled for May 26 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, will be the 13th Starlink launch in 2021.

Viasat is asking the FCC to temporarily halt other launches so federal courts can review the legality of the license change.

Carlsbad, California Viasat provides broadband services from the geostationary orbit (GEO), You can file a petition The FCC is conducting an environmental investigation before the permit is amended as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which categorically excludes satellite systems, but says it has not done so, although the giants are introducing new considerations to regulators.

Some astronomers also requested an environmental assessment because they were concerned about how the reflection of the constellation would affect observations from ground-based telescopes.

The FCC generally rejected requests when it did You agree to change the licenseAlthough she urged SpaceX to continue working closely with astronomers to illuminate the brightness of its satellites. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has provided several reasons for not conducting an environmental assessment, ranging from whether light pollution is covered by NEPA to indicating that the Federal Aviation Administration conducts environmental assessments as part of the launch permit process.

Viasat said in a May 21 report to the FCC that NEPA had asked them to at least consider environmental damage before awarding the SpaceX application, such as orbital debris, light pollution and impact. Satellites can disintegrate In the atmosphere.

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“We believe that the FCC has failed to conduct an environmental study required by law under the NEPA Act and that the Biden Harris administration has failed to adhere to a science-based approach to protecting the atmosphere, climate and environment. Space on Earth, the well – being from the United States.” John Janka, chief executive of government and regulatory affairs at Viasat Global, said in an emailed statement authorizing the launch of thousands of new Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit.

As such, we have asked the commission to suspend its system until federal courts assess its legality.

If the FCC does not grant residency on June 1, Viasat plans to go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where it will seek residency and review the change order.

SpaceX did not respond to requests for comment.

In April, former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein joined Viasat’s board of directors.

Bridenstine In an interview with SpaceNews At the time, threats from massive stars to space security and access to space in general were one of the issues on his radar.

Viasat is developing a large-scale constellation of three ViaSat-3 satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO) that will expand its operations globally, with a production capacity of three terabits per second.

The first Viasat-3 satellite will serve North and South America and plans to launch it early next year.

Space News writer Geoff Faust contributed this story from Washington

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