SpaceX has opened a new window into its ambitious plans for a global satellite broadband data network, thanks to an earth-station license application filed with the Federal Communications Commission.
The application, filed on behalf of a sister company called SpaceX Services, seeks blanket approval for up to a million earth stations that would be used by customers of the Starlink satellite internet service. The stations would rely on a flat-panel, phased-array system to transmit and receive signals in the Ku-band to and from the Starlink constellation.
Those satellites have already received clearance from the FCC, and SpaceX plans to launch the first elements of the initial 4,425-satellite constellation this year, using Falcon 9 rockets. The company sent up its first two experimental broadband satellites last year and has been tweaking its plans for Starlink as a result of those space-to-ground tests. Eventually, SpaceX wants to build up the network to take in as many as 12,000 satellites in low Earth orbit.
The application filed with the FCC on Feb. 1 focuses on the receiving end of the space-based service.