NASA Criticizes A New Satellite Megaconstellation Project

A US company plans to establish a new satellite megaconstellation at an altitude of 720 kilometres above the surface of our planet. However, NASA has released an official press statement related to the project.

According to the project that was submitted by AST & Science, the company plans to construct a constellation with at least 240 satellites that could provide access to 4G and 5G broadband internet connection across the world. Investors are already interested, as the company has received more than $120 million in funding.

Space conflicts

NASA underlined the fact that the altitude proposed for the megaconstellation is already populated by ten scientific satellites operated by the space agency, the US Geological Survey as well as European partners. The A-Train constellation is quite important for scientific research and any potential clashes would lead to costly damage and major issues for researchers.

Another issue is posed by the size of the satellites, which are quite large. AST wants to integrate big phased array antennae, requiring a notable hard body radius of 30 meters, which is up to ten times larger in comparison to the one needed by regular satellites.

FCC Permissions

The Federal Communications Commission takes decisions related to the spectrum, and ATS will have to obtain a license from the FCC if it wants to offer its services in the US, but the task shouldn’t be too difficult as the FCC is quite permissive when it comes to US companies and their projects.

At this point, it is not clear if the FCC would approve the request, especially since NASA seems to be against the project.  Some scientists argue that the low Earth orbit should remain as free as possible to keep it safe and avoid potential clashes between satellites on the same trajectory.

Only time will tell what will happen in the future.

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