Capitalism in space: In paperwork filed by SpaceX to the FCC, it has announced it is pushing to launch the first second generation Starlink satellites by March, 2022.
While some news reports have suggested that SpaceX intended to launch those upgraded satellites on Starship, this reporting is certainly wrong. As the article at the link correctly notes, SpaceX does not have to state what rocket it plans to use in its paperwork. It could very easily launch these first upgraded satellites on a Falcon 9.
The story however does provide this interesting tidbit about the FCC’s treatment of SpaceX in this licensing process:
SpaceX filed the first unmodified Gen2 Starlink application with the FCC in May 2020, requesting permission to launch an unprecedented 30,000 satellites. While the size of the proposed constellation is extraordinary, the FCC has also been exceptionally slow to process it. Only five months after SpaceX submitted its Starlink Gen2 modification request and nineteen months after its original Gen2 application did the FCC finally accept it for filing, which means that it has taken more than a year and a half to merely start the official review process. [emphasis in original]
In other words, the FCC stalled SpaceX for more than a year and a half. If the DC bureaucracy can play such games with Starlink, this suggests it might very well be doing the same with the approval of the environmental reassessment for SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility, which the FAA has now delayed repeatedly since last year. There are many people in Washington, both in the Biden administration and in the established and permanent bureaucracy, who do not like SpaceX’s success or its independence, and wish to use government power to squelch it. This story provides us some evidence that such misuse of government power in the FAA is very likely occurring.
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