Musk and Bezos clash again as SpaceX Starlink satellites given clearance to fly at lower altitudes

Washington, April 28 2021: The US federal Communications Commission regulators have given Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites clearance to fly at lower than 580km, instead of the originally proposed 1000-1300km range. The authority said the modification in the decision will apply to 2800 satellites, will serve public interest and improve the public experience for users of the SpaceX service. Starlink aims to eventually blanket poorly connected and isolated areas of the globe.

The announcement of the FCC decision online says that lower altitudes would allow for speedy removal of the satellites thereby reducing debris in the space but that SpaceX would have to accept any interference as a result of the decision.

The purpose of the project is for the company’s satellites to provide internet coverage particularly to poorly covered under-served areas of the globe such as the poles. The decision invited criticism from competitors such as Amazon which has its own space-based internet delivery system called Project Kuiper. According to Amazon, this move meant there was now a greater chance of collisions in space and also the risk of radio interference. The Kuiper satellites have an assigned altitude of 590km for orbit, higher than SpaceX’s 580km.

Though critical of the Starlink project, Amazon said that it was appreciative of the FCC’s work to “maintain a safe and competitive environment in low earth orbit.”

The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk and Amazon boss Jeff Bezos who also owns Project Kuiper, are both in competition for becoming the richest man on earth. Earlier this week, Bezos’s space company Blue Origin had filed a protest against NASA’s decision to use the SpaceX landing system for its mission to the moon.

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