The constellation of Starlink communications satellites could be almost four times larger than it was planned. SpaceX requested permission from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to allocate frequencies for an additional 30,000 satellites. Two years ago, the company submitted documents to launch nearly 12 thousand satellites for Internet distribution around the world, which were approved by ITU and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). SpaceX launched the first 60 satellites of the Starlink global Internet system into low Earth orbit in May this year.
The FCC has submitted a total of 20 applications to the ITU, each is requesting permission to launch 1,500 satellites in different Earth orbits. SpaceX wants to put them into orbits from 328 to 580 km, which may be cause for concern according to MIT’s Technology Review. Roger Thompson of Aerospace Corporation said that this area of space is the cleanest, that is why manned spacecraft, including the ISS, fly there. Thousands of satellites will have a strong impact on future flights of people into space.
Nevertheless, a permission request for 30 thousand satellites does not mean that SpaceX will launch all 42 thousand Starlink satellites at all. Some opponents of the company believe that these applications are just a trick so that ITU is mired in research being in the process of changing its rules. However, these requests are just the first step in a very long process. The company plans to launch another 60 Starlink satellites this month, and another group of satellites in next month.