Nov 15, 2018 - Science

SpaceX gets federal approval to launch 7,000 satellites into orbit

Space X launch

A SpaceX launch. Photo: Bill Ingalis/Nasa via Getty Images

Elon Musk's SpaceX won permission from the Federal Communications Commission to launch 7,000 Starlink internet satellites into space, creating a path for the company to build a network of nearly 12,000 satellites surrounding the Earth and providing internet access, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The satellites could provide next-generation internet access to developing countries and rural areas that have struggled with connectivity over the years.

Details: The company has an initial goal of launching 1,600 satellites in the next few years, but said it could take more than six years to complete the full network.

  • SpaceX isn't the only company the FCC approved launches for: Kepler, Telesat and Leosat also received approvals to launch satellites, triggering a race to build the strongest network.

Yes, but: Despite the benefits, some regulators have concerns about the accumulation of junk in space. There are nearly 13,000 objects currently classified as space debris. The FCC launched a review of orbital debris mitigation rules in an effort to "help to preserve the space environment."

What they're saying: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the launches serve the public interest "across many areas of our economy, including the automotive, aviation, rail, maritime and agriculture industries."

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