SpaceX has requested the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement new rules for processing satellite applications in order to accelerate the development of its Starlink venture. The company claims that these requested changes would not only benefit consumers but also contribute to American space leadership. One of the rules SpaceX wants to eliminate is the requirement for filing applications for even the smallest changes to satellite systems, which it argues adds unnecessary paperwork and slows down the process.
SpaceX intends to upgrade its first-generation Starlink satellite constellation with improved hardware and believes that allowing operators to make such upgrades without formal modifications would enhance space sustainability and enable faster issue response. The FCC is expected to vote on new rules for satellite application processing on September 21st, which includes eliminating unnecessary procedures and establishing timelines for determining the acceptability of applications. While SpaceX supports the current proposal, it urges the commission to adopt its suggestions for further streamlining the rules. This includes enforcing definitive deadlines, known as “shot clocks,” for reviewing and taking action on satellite applications to prevent regulatory delays.
SpaceX highlights the multi-year delays in application processing that operators currently face, as a significant number of applications remain pending. The company warns that these delays cause uncertainty and adversely affect both large and small satellite operators, resulting in slower and fewer deployments of next-generation satellite systems, reduced innovation, and decreased competition. The FCC has acknowledged the backlog of satellite applications and, in response, launched a new Space Bureau in April to handle the influx of applications. Apart from the upcoming vote on the new rules, the commission is committed to considering further streamlining measures for satellite applications in future proceedings.