OneWeb slashes size of future satellite constellation

WASHINGTON — OneWeb says it’s drastically decreasing the dimensions of a proposed next-generation satellite tv for pc constellation initially envisioned to have almost 48,000 satellites.

In a Jan. 12 submitting with the Federal Communications Fee, OneWeb sought permission to amend an software filed in Might requesting to launch 47,844 satellites for its “Section Two” constellation. As a substitute, the corporate is proposing a system with 6,372 satellites.

The revised constellation, OneWeb mentioned in a Jan. 13 assertion, “demonstrates the dedication and imaginative and prescient” of its new house owners, the British authorities and Indian telecom firm Bharti International, for “deploying a value efficient, accountable, and groundbreaking satellite tv for pc community to ship international broadband.”

The unique Section Two proposal filed with the FCC envisioned a system with 32 planes of 720 satellites every at an inclination of 40 levels, 32 planes with 720 satellites every at an inclination of 55 levels, and 36 planes with 49 satellites every at an inclination of 87.9 levels, for a complete of 47,844 satellites, all in orbits 1,200 kilometers excessive. These can be along with its preliminary constellation of about 650 satellites the corporate is at present deploying, which isn’t affected by the proposed modification.

The revised system retains the identical quantity and association of orbital planes, however reduces the variety of satellites in every of the 40-degree and 55-degree planes from 720 to 72. The satellites within the 87.9-degree orbital planes are unchanged, decreasing the full dimension of the system to six,372 satellites.

“OneWeb expects this revised deployment plan for its Section 2 constellation will allow it to realize superior finish consumer throughput and spectral effectivity whereas decreasing funding necessities and fostering OneWeb’s ‘Accountable House’ imaginative and prescient,” the corporate mentioned in its FCC submitting. “This Modification is an integral a part of OneWeb’s dedication to help the long-term use of house for all by preserving the orbital surroundings.”

Regardless of decreasing the dimensions of the constellation by greater than 85%, OneWeb requested the FCC to contemplate the modification “minor” beneath its guidelines for assessing precedence for numerous purposes. The corporate mentioned it’s making no different modifications, like frequency allocations, for the system, so “this proposed discount in satellites is not going to improve the potential interference” for different techniques.

It’s not clear how severe OneWeb was in its authentic proposal for launching almost 48,000 satellites. The corporate filed the appliance when it was in Chapter 11 chapter and had suspended deployment of its first-generation system. That deployment resumed in December, after the corporate emerged from Chapter 11 beneath its new possession.

The dimensions of the system, bigger than another constellation proposed, alarmed some within the house sustainability area due to the heightened threat of orbital particles. Astronomers had been additionally frightened that the satellites would pose an excellent better threat to their observations than SpaceX’s Starlink system.

“It’s clear that an enormous constellation of fifty,000 satellites at excessive altitude is essentially the most threatening to seen astronomy,” mentioned Olivier Hainaut, an astronomer on the European Southern Observatory, throughout a July convention session on the impact of satellite tv for pc megaconstellations on astronomy.

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