The US authorizes Starlink to deploy its second-generation satellites, but with limitations

The US Federal Communications Commission has given the green light for the deployment of the new Starlink satellites , although it has imposed certain restrictions.


Starlink , SpaceX ‘s satellite Internet service, has finally received clearance from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to begin deploying its second generation of satellites. Although the motion was approved, the agency also imposed certain restrictions on the service since, for now, only 25% of the total devices designed for the new constellation will be able to operate.

According to the official document from Elon Musk ‘s company, Starlink ‘s request included the manufacture, deployment and operation of 29,988 new satellites. However, the FCC chose to only authorize the operation of 7,500 devices considering the criticisms and objections that have been raised by other companies dedicated to providing satellite Internet to their customers, as well as to “maintain a safe space environment”.

Even if the restrictions have already been imposed, the body has left open the possibility of expanding the number of devices allowed in the future.

Starlink prepares its second generation of satellites

Starlink ‘s plan with its second generation of satellites is to be able to operate at 525; 530 and 535 kilometers from Earth with tilt angles of 53, 43 and 33 degrees respectively using the Ku and Ka bands. However, what stands out from this decision is that the FCC authorization does not contemplate the launch of more devices than those that SpaceX already had approved when, in 2018, Elon Musk received the green light to send 7,518 satellites to operate in V-band, but in the end he never launched.

These teams could be adapted and incorporated into the second generation Starlink constellation . “This means that our action today does not increase the total number of satellites SpaceX is authorized to deploy, and in fact slightly reduces it, compared to the total number it could otherwise have deployed ,” the FCC said 

Great expectations about the new Starlink satellites

SpaceX applied for authorization for Starlink ‘s second-generation satellites in mid-2020 and has been awaiting regulatory approval ever since. The company led by Elon Musk had to face constant protests from other companies in the sector, especially Kuiper Systems , a subsidiary of Amazon .

The tycoon who also owns Tesla Motors, Neuralink and Twitter provided details on the technical developments that the new Starlink constellation will have . Musk indicated that the new satellites will be more efficient than their predecessors and much larger, something not necessarily a good thing since it gives them a higher level of difficulty to put them into orbit. The original satellites of the system measure 2.8 x 1.4 meters, while those of the second generation are 7 x 3 meters.

Another detail is that the FCC authorization obliges SpaceX to work with NASA to ensure that the deployment of the new satellites will not disrupt the agency’s missions. The Commission noted that the nearly 30,000 second-generation devices could pose risks to upcoming manned missions or ruin Hubble telescope photos .