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SpaceX asks to test broadband in SPAAACE

Musk seeks FCC license for antenna tests

By Richard Chirgwin, 4 Jun 2015

Elon Musk's SpaceX has filed its long-anticipated application to test a satellite-based broadband service with the Federal Communications Commission.

The filing requests permission to beam signals down to “three broadband array test ground stations” on the US West Coast.

Elon's satellites won't suffer the unbearable delays experienced by geosynchronous units, though: the two identical Ku-band satellites in the test will operate in 625 Km-high orbits at 86.6° inclination.

The satellites will be testing antenna configurations, and since the application refers to them as “MicroSat 1a” and “MicroSat 1b”, Larry Press speculates that the tests will use Cubesats to keep weight down.

The application requests permission for 24 months of experiments.

Ground locations in the tests include SpaceX's Hawthorne, California HQ; Tesla's HQ in Fremont, CA; and SpaceX's Redmond, Washington location.

Earlier this year, Google and Fidelity slung US$1 billion into the company with an eye to developing satellite broadband capabilities.

Apart from the time needed to develop and launch a low-Earth-orbit constellation, it'll take some time to deliver any kind of service, since the venture will need to get spectrum licenses in any country it wants to beam signals to. ®

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