SpaceX says Amazon’s call to dismiss Starlink amendment is a delay tactic

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TAMPA, Fla. — SpaceX has hit back at Amazon over its attempt to block amended plans for a second-generation Starlink constellation, calling it a delay tactic to slow down competition. 

Amazon said the amended plans should be dismissed in an Aug. 25 letter to the Federal Communications Commission, because they comprise two configurations for the nearly 30,000 follow-on satellites that SpaceX has in store for Gen 2. 

This doubles the technical efforts that other operators face to review interference and orbital debris concerns, according to Amazon, which is developing plans for a rival broadband megaconstellation through its Project Kuiper subsidiary.

Amazon said applying for more than one configuration also encourages speculative application behavior from future constellation operators.

“The Commission should recognize this delay tactic for what it is — a continuation of efforts by the Amazon family of companies to hinder competitors to compensate for Amazon’s failure to make progress of its own,” SpaceX said in an Aug. 31 letter to the FCC.

It added: “While SpaceX has proceeded to deploy more than 1,700 satellites, Amazon has yet to even attempt to address the radio-frequency interference and orbital debris issues that must be resolved before Amazon can deploy its constellation.”

SpaceX said that while orbital parameters “differ slightly” for its two configurations, neither requires more spectrum or result in additional interference to other proposed non-geostationary systems. 

One of the configurations envisages using SpaceX’s heavy-lift Starship vehicle it is developing to deploy the next generation satellites faster. SpaceX said it prefers this option and described the other, which will continue to use its Falcon 9 rockets, as an alternative.

In July 2020, the FCC permitted Project Kuiper to launch 3,236 satellites as long as it shows how they will address radio interference and orbital debris concerns.