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SpaceX wins FCC approval to test Starlink ground stations in 6 states

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), based in Hawthorne, California, is an astronaut launch service provider and equipment manufacturer. This network, also known as Starlink, ultimately aims to function independently by using lasers to transmit data between the satellites to ensure global coverage.

However, SpaceX’s plans for Starlink are under the microscope of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which has yet to decide whether to maintain the company’s preferential access to certain frequency bands. In addition, the Commission also has to change the view that Starlink is ‘experimental’ in nature; a shift that qualifies the network to receive U.S. government resources to provide Internet access to users in rural areas.

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To that end, Starlink just won a major victory from the FCC, as the regulatory agency SpaceX Services Inc. has granted temporary authority to operate Starlink ground stations in six US states. The approval follows SpaceX’s decision to submit the Special Temporary Authority’s (STA) request to the FCC in mid-June.

SpaceX gains temporary authority to operate Starlink ground stations in California, Minnesota, Idaho, Alabama, Georgia, and Montana

For the first phase of the launch of Starlink, SpaceX will need to use terrestrial stations on Earth to operate the network and allow users to connect to Internet servers. The company has asked the FCC for permission to temporarily run six ground stations in various U.S. states to test these ground stations and the satellites, in an effort to ensure that the network performs as expected after its commercial launch later this year.

The six ground stations for which SpaceX has received FCC approval are located in Hitterdal, MN; Tionesta, CA; Robertsdale, AL; and Baxley, GA, Butte, MT; and Colburn, ID. For uploading data from the stations to the Starlink satellites, the company plans to use the 28.6-29.1 GHz and 29.5-30.0 GHz spectra, and for downlink, it plans to use the 17.8-18, Use 6 GHz and 18.8-19.3 GHz.

The Falcon 9 Block 5 (Booster B1049.5) with the eighth batch of Starlink satellites will take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on June 4, 2020. (Image: SpaceX livestream)

FCC’s approval also requires SpaceX to be responsible for any interference that may occur with existing users of the above spectrum bands. In particular, they have been tilted against SpaceX because of the facts. that while the company is responsible for not intentionally causing interference with other current users of the band and is not liable to receive any protection against such interference should such interference occur, SpaceX is required to stop the broadcast from the ground station responsible for the event and continue to notify the FCC of the event.

Each of SpaceX’s gateway ground stations has eight antennas manufactured by SpaceX in-house. The antennas have small and large diameters of 1.5 meters each, are located 3.2 meters above ground level, have an input power of 50 watts and an effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) of 66.5 decibels-watt. EIRP is an indicator of the maximum output power of the antenna in one direction.

SpaceX’s STA period begins today and lasts 60 days and ends in September. In the story of the authorization request, the company tied the grant directly to its ability to refine Starlink to create a network capable of serving populations in areas that typically do not have an Internet connection or where users find it difficult to get coverage to get. SpaceX is also required to coordinate with federal users of the frequency bands in which it is authorized to operate, and approval comes as the company prepares to expand the number of Starlink satellites in orbit by expanding more launches feed.

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