Currently, there are 1,300 Starlink satellites in space. Now SpaceX received a grant from Federal Communications Commission to launch 2,814 satellites in a lower orbit. However, there is a catch.
SpaceX is having a race with its new competitors. They are Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Dynetics. Though Dynetics is not even half close to achieving the SpaceX rocket, Flacon 9 Dragon. It still has joined an alliance with Blue Origin to report on NASA.
WIth such disputes, it is expected that Amazon is now happy with the conditions SpaceX has to follow for Starlink.
Having a satellite in lower orbits means being along with the other nearby satellites. Already existing Starlink satellite had once been close enough to collide with another satellite. For some reason, the SpaceX satellite’s detecting alarm was off.
Additionally, the conditions involved are, SpaceX should have Safety focused modifications. As it is expected from the Starlink to be able to safety discard as quickly as possible in case of emergency. This discard should happen towards the fiery end of the earth’s atmosphere.
Other operational conditions include, SpaceX operating with the operators in regard with the signals. Also, it is expected that SpaceX provides it’s semi-annual reports to FCC, on Starlink failures. Such that, failure events include conjunction events, or close calls with the other satellites.
Considering Starlink’s history, these conditions seem to be focused only on the safety of the project. Hence not specifically a downside for Starlink, but encourages for more perfection.
In 2019, SpaceX received approvals from FCC to launch 1,584 Starlink satellites. However, the current approval is bit different. Now, SpaceX can launch in lower orbits. Interestingly, this is around the same area, where Amazon’s constellation was proposed.
This kind of approval fro SpaceX has encouraged other organisations to ask for the same. Expecially since the incident when Starlink couldn’t identify the plausible collision with other satellite earlier this year.
Contradicting to the rivals reasoning, it was stated by the operators that the defense system was off at that time. However, the reason behind why it was off weren’t stated.
Fight between Amazon and SpaceX
Despite every reason, it was a win situation for Amazon. One of the conditions for SpaceX to launch around Amazon’s Kuiper orbit area. Which is SpaceX operating and work around Amazon’s constillation. Meaning, Amazon need not adjust to the SpaceX satellites.
It does not serve the public to hamstring Starlink today for an Amazon satellite system that is at best several years away from operation
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 26, 2021
SpaceX largely known for it’s priorityin preference by organisations. This kind of condition is a minor win for Amazon to start with.
A company spokes person from SpaceX said, “This is a positive outcome that places clear conditions on SpaceX, including requirements that it remain below 580 km and accept additional interference resulting from its redesign,”
Further adding that, “These conditions address our primary concerns regarding space safety and interference, and we appreciate the Commission’s work to maintain a safe and competitive environment in low earth orbit.”