Dish Network and Viasat sued to overturn an FCC ruling allowing SpaceX to operate Starlink satellites in lower altitudes.
The FCC’s decision last year to allow SpaceX to launch 2,814 Starlink satellites into 540- to 570-kilometer orbits is at question.
Starlink satellites could create radio interference; rival satellite companies argued. Therefore, Dish Network and Viasat sued to overturn the FCC’s ruling.
In addition, The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia maintained the FCC’s original judgement on Friday, saying Dish Network and Viasat’s legal objections lacked merit. Reuters broke the story.
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Dish said the FCC didn’t evaluate how the Starlink satellites could interfere with its own service. This includes ignoring expert reports.
In Friday’s verdict, the courts found the FCC appropriately followed its own standards in calculating interference risk. Dish “acknowledges that SpaceX’s desired changes pass muster”
Viasat contended the FCC should have conducted an environmental evaluation before allowing SpaceX to operate Starlink in lower orbits. Starlink satellites could collide with the company’s; the company said. Viasat runs only one satellite that flies close to SpaceX’s constellation, and it doesn’t genuinely believe that a direct collision is likely enough to warrant Article III standing. This injury idea is speculative.
Viasat said the court’s judgement is a setback for space safety and the environment. Had the Court ordered the FCC to appropriately deal with mega-constellation deployment in LEO; therefore, we believe adverse repercussions that may last decades or centuries could have been averted.
Moreover, “Today’s decision does not change the FCC rule that prohibits SpaceX and other NGSO operators from interfering with Dish’s TV service.” We’ll be watchful to ensure SpaceX doesn’t hurt our satellite clients.”
Both corporations have fought SpaceX’s other efforts via FCC filings; notably Dish’s struggle with SpaceX over 12GHz radio spectrum. So the regulatory jousting will likely continue.