What a tragic irony if continued access to space is lost as a consequence of lower launch and spacecraft costs. The U.S. is the global space leader and has more to lose than any other nation from diminished access. That’s why the FCC on April 23 is about to adopt new space safety rules for non-geosynchronous orbit (NGSO) satellites that minimize that possibility. The Commission should be applauded for their thorough work and conclusions.
The prospect of thousands — potentially more than 10,000, depending on what systems actually get launched — of satellites in low Earth orbit raises concerns about collisions and the creation of orbital debris that could render such orbits all but useless for any satellite.
Telesat plans to use an 85 million Canadian dollar ($64.7 million) investment by the government of Canada on the first dozen satellites of its low Earth orbit broadband constellation.
The founder of broadband megaconstellation company OneWeb urged the smallsat industry to operate responsibly in orbit, warning that failed satellites and collisions could result in stifling government regulation.
While the concept of constellation is not new, the challenges connected to operating hundreds of spacecraft at the same time are yet to be fully understood.