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SpaceX Starlink satellites being deployed in Earth orbit. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX scored a regulatory victory at the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday, overcoming opposition from Amazon and other satellite companies on a key change to its plans for a satellite network that will beam internet access across the globe.

Why it matters: SpaceX needed FCC approval to move forward with its plan to provide internet access in hard-to-reach areas.

What's happening: SpaceX asked the FCC for permission to lower the orbit of its future Starlink satellites.

  • Amazon — which plans to launch its competing Project Kuiper satellite network — objected, arguing that the SpaceX change would interfere with its plans.
  • But the FCC unanimously sided with SpaceX, saying it doesn't believe the company's plans will cause significant interference.
  • "Based on our review, we agree with SpaceX that the modification will improve the experience for users of the SpaceX service, including in often-underserved polar regions," the FCC said in the order.

What they're saying: Amazon described the FCC's decision as a "positive outcome" because of conditions the agency imposed on SpaceX, including accepting additional interference.

  • "These conditions address our primary concerns regarding space safety and interference, and we appreciate the Commission’s work to maintain a safe and competitive environment in low earth orbit," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement.

Between the lines, from Axios' Miriam Kramer: This victory further cements SpaceX as the leader among companies attempting to build mega-constellations of internet-beaming satellites. Whether any others will be able to catch up remains to be seen.

Go deeper: The billionaires' brawl over satellite broadband

Editor's note: This story has been updated with Amazon's statement.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 27, 2021 - Science

A make-or-break moment for cleaning up space junk

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Companies and governments around the world are racing to figure out how to clean up human-made junk that is cluttering space.

Why it matters: Trackers are seeing more and more close calls between satellites, as companies work to deploy constellations of hundreds to thousands of small spacecraft, adding to fears that those small satellites could become junk themselves.

1 hour ago - Health

Biden reaches agreements with Uber and Lyft to give free rides to vaccine sites

A coronavirus vaccination site in Miami on May 10. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Biden administration has reached agreements with ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft to offer free rides to coronavirus vaccination sites through July 4, the White House announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The free rides, starting in the next two weeks, are part of the Biden administration's push to administer at least one vaccine dose to 70% of U.S. adults by Independence Day.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Biden officials green-light nation's first big offshore wind project

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration today gave final approval to Vineyard Wind, a project off the Massachusetts coast slated to be the country's first large-scale offshore wind farm.

Why it matters: While the green light for the long-proposed project was expected, it marks a key step in White House plans to help spur development of a suite of coastal projects off New York, New Jersey and other states.