Four new proposed satellite constellations have been approved by US Federal Communications Commissions and it also authorized nearly 8000 small telecom satellites that will now serve US agencies from low earth orbits. The new regulation will now allow California based SpaceX and Ottawa based Telesat to expand their constellations that were approved last year and fill it with satellites in V-band spectrum. Kepler Communications and LeoSat based in Canada and Netherlands also got approvals, and while the former will use 140 Ku-band satellites the latter will apply 78 Ka-band satellites. Among all four firms that got approval Hawthorne based Space X has the largest constellation of 7518 satellites called VLEO that would operate just below 350 kms above earth.
SpaceX says that at this altitude the drag of atmospheric gravity would pull down spent satellites within a month putting to rest concerns about the amount of debris that these satellites would leave in spatial orbits. Three of the firms whose proposals have been approved have already placed their demonstration satellites in orbit. While SpaceX launched two prototype satellites in February, Telestat launched two prototypes in January. Telestat has given study contracts to Airbus Defense and Space team for evaluation about building its constellation.
Kepler has just one satellite prototype in orbit that was launched in January from Chinese Long March 11 and is planning to launch a second one in November through Indian PSLV while a third one is under construction. These prototypes will test communication ranges between earth and space for connectivity of Internet of Things and also connect other satellites in space through inter-satellite links. LeoSat had plans underway to launch two prototype satellites next year, but deferred them as a cost cutting move and instead will do ground tech validation with Thales Alenia Space and its investor Sky Perfect Jsat of Japan.