SpaceX, the rocket startup Musk runs, filed for permission for its constellation of refrigerator-sized satellites late last year. Selling broadband from orbit is a key part of how SpaceX plans to make money beyond its original rocket-launching service.
But the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is poised to deal the project a setback with a decision that could force power reductions on SpaceX satellites, and potentially limit the spectrum they can use, making them less effective.
The regulator will in part defer to the International Telecommunication Union, an agency of the United Nations, on how these new satellite systems need to coordinate and share spectrum, according to a draft set of rules set for a vote Tuesday. The package is likely to pass as it’s backed by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who leads the agency’s Republican majority.
I wonder if the expense and risk inherent to space launches might encourage Musk and his competitors to come up with a better self-regulatory scheme — and faster than the FCC and UN could.