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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.

Jan. 6 chair: Panel will ask Ivanka Trump to cooperate with investigation

Former President Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump walk to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on January 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot said Thursday that the panel is soon going to ask Ivanka Trump to cooperate with the investigation.

Driving the news: "You will anticipate the committee inviting some people to come talk to us," Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told reporters in the Capitol, adding, "not lawmakers right now — Ivanka Trump."

1 hour ago - World

Putin is challenging Ukraine's "right to exist," Blinken says

Blinken (L) speaks in Berlin on Thursday. Photo: Kay Nietfeld - Pool/Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken put the stakes of a Russian invasion of Ukraine in stark terms on Thursday, saying Vladimir Putin's threat is a direct challenge to Ukraine's "right to exist" as an independent country and a democracy.

What he's saying: “There’s been a lot of speculation about President Putin’s true intentions, but we don’t actually have to guess. He’s told us, repeatedly. He’s laying the groundwork for an invasion because he doesn’t believe Ukraine is a sovereign nation," Blinken said during a speech in Berlin.