SpaceX has submitted papers with the International Telecommunication Union requesting permission to launch up to 30,000 more Starlink satellites. Elon Musk’s company has sought permission from the ITU, which governs international use of global bandwidth, to operate them at a specific location, frequency and power level in space. This request is over and above the permission granted by the United States government to operate about 12,000 satellites. The company has already launched 60 satellites in May. SpaceX is betting its future on a network of small satellites but people are wondering why so many? To this, the company said the move is aimed at ensuring that its network can meet users’ anticipated ‘responsibly’.
A SpaceX spokesperson said that the company was taking steps to responsibly improve the data density and total network capacity to meet the growth in users’ expected requirements. The Hawthorne-based company submitted documents for this on October 7. According to filings submitted, SpaceX wants these satellites in orbits ranging from about 321 km or 200 miles to 579 km or 360 miles above the Earth. However, there is no mention of dates when these satellites would be launched by the company. Some reports suggest that SpaceX is looking forward to launching only a few hundred satellites in the near future.
SpaceX is hoping that the demand for low-latency and high-capacity broadband will increase globally. Also, it anticipates a growing rush on the spectrum in futures given the increasing interest in providing communications from orbit. The global internet connectivity market is worth about USD 1 trillion and Elon Musk has estimated that his company could capture at least 3 percent or USD 30 billion of that sector. At least 10 times of what SpaceX is making by launching satellites for government and commercial customers and ferrying NASA’s cargo to the International Space Station. Musk wants to use this revenue to fund his dream project Starship – a Mars spaceship – that would be capable of taking up to 100 people to the Martian surface. The company is already building the prototype of the spaceship near Boca Chica Beach facility in Texas.