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FCC stings Swarm for unauthorized satellite launch

PSLV launch
India’s PSLV rocket lifts off in January, carrying controversial satellites into orbit. (ISRO Photo)

A stealthy California startup called Swarm Technologies is facing the wrath of the Federal Communications Commission after its super-miniaturized satellites were launched without proper authorization.

The flap was first reported March 9 by IEEE Spectrum.

It all started when Swarm Technologies developed a breed of networked communications satellites known as SpaceBEEs (Basic Electronic Elements). The satellites were unusually small: about 4 inches square and 1 inch thick, or roughly the size of a sandwich.

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FCC chief endorses SpaceX’s satellite plan

Ajit Pai
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is on board with SpaceX’s satellite plan. (Flickr Photo / FCCDotGov)

SpaceX’s plan to beam broadband services to America and the world via its Starlink satellite constellation got a big thumbs-up today from Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Pai’s endorsement isn’t exactly a surprise: The FCC already has given its approval to rival companies with similar plans, including OneWeb, Space Norway and Telesat.

Nevertheless, Pai’s praise probably made Valentine’s Day nicer for SpaceX, just days after the high-profile maiden launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket and days before the scheduled launch of the first prototype Starlink satellites.

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Kymeta wins FCC’s OK for pizza-box antennas

Kymeta RAV4 SUV
During an 8,000-mile test drive known as “Kytrek 2,” Kymeta demonstrated how its KyWay terminal could provide coast-to-coast satellite connectivity for a Toyota RAV4 SUV. (Kymeta Photo)

Kymeta Corp., the flat-panel antenna startup backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, has won key approvals from the Federal Communications Commission and its British counterpart for thousands of satellite antennas and the terminals to go with them.

Until now, the company has been providing its mTenna antennas and KyWay data terminals under the terms of special, temporary or experimental licenses, said Carl Novello, vice president of solutions for the Redmond, Wash.-based company.

“This is the big one that says, ‘Yup, you’re well on your way to commercialization,’” he told GeekWire today.

The FCC issued the blanket license on Aug. 24, authorizing 5,000 terminals for land mobile applications, 1,000 for maritime applications and 5,000 for fixed satellite service.

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