A wave of new applications submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week for approval for communications satellites operating in the V band has sent the number of spacecraft in large constellations soaring to nearly 100,000.
A list compiled by Parabolic Arc shows that 94,255 satellites are included in the constellations. That number includes 29,439 satellites approved by the FCC or in development in China. The FCC has applicants pending before it for another 64,816 satellites.
The Chinese government recently formed a company to develop a satellite mega-constellation that would exceed SpaceX’s rival Starlink communications network in size, according to media reports.
The newly created China Satellite Network Group Co. will oversee the development of a communications satellite constellation that will include 12,992 satellites. China has filed for spectrum allocation for the constellation with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The Chinese constellation would be the largest in the world with 1,049 more satellites than the 11,943 Starlink satellites approved by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Together, the Chinese and Starlink satellites would place 24,935 satellites into Earth orbit.
Video Caption: While we’ve been so focused on separating our cardboard and plastic down on Earth, waste, abandoned satellites, and other man made debris have been accumulating in space. If we want to continue our progress in space and maintain our technology, it’s time for a major cleanup! Watch Full Frontal with Samantha Bee all new Wednesdays at 10:30/ 9:30c on TBS!
PARIS (CNES PR) — SpaceBlower, in French “space blower”. The purpose of this light suborbital launcher is to eject its plume at large unmaneuverable space debris. By avoiding collision with one another and their fragmentation into several thousand others, the aim is to preserve the safety of orbits and satellites. SpaceBlower is a preliminary project initiated and funded by CNES, with the support and co-funding of Bertin Technologies (now CT France). Christophe Bonnal, senior expert at the CNES launchers department, discusses it with us.
Larry Press reports a Chinese company named GW has filed for spectrum allocation from the International Telecommunication Union for two broadband constellations called GW-A59 and GW-2 that would include 12,992 satellites.
The size of GW’s request indicates to Press that the company would compete globally with broadband constellations being built by SpaceX, OneWeb and Amazon. He wrote:
by Alok Sharma Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
On 2 July 2018, a £100 million satellite called CryoSat-2 was completing its daily rounds of monitoring ice caps back on Earth from an orbital vantage point 700 kilometres above us, when mission controllers spotted a chunk of space debris hurtling towards it at 17,000 miles per hour.
To avert a potentially catastrophic collision, engineers fired up CryoSat’s thrusters and moved it out of harm’s way. This near miss was not the first, and it will not be the last.
An estimated 20,000 pieces of space debris, better known as ‘space junk’; are whizzing around the Earth as you read this. This includes zombie satellites and whole junkyards’ worth of whirling fragments left over from space missions.
Senate and House committees held hearings on consecutive days last week about space situational awareness (SSA) and space traffic management (STM), i.e., the ability to accurately track objects in Earth orbit and to avoid dangerous collisions that could knock out satellites and even render entire orbits unusable.
The overall conclusion was that, although progress is being made, we’re not nearly as aware as we need to be as orbital debris poses an ever bigger problem and companies prepare to launch tens of thousands of new satellites.
“Near Earth space is geo-politically contested, it’s commercially contested and it’s in dire need of environmental protection because it is a finite resource,” said Moriba Jah, an associate professor of astronautics at the University of Texas.