Satellite companies condemn megaconstellation filings as “excessive”

Satellite companies condemn megaconstellation filings as “excessive”

Seasoned satellite operators expressed their displeasure with the many proposals for massive satellite constellations, urging that states should step up and set restrictions to limit such systems. The most well-known of these submissions is one made in September by the Rwandan government with the ITU (International Telecommunication Union), which suggested two constellations totaling 327,230 satellites. Rwanda has only launched one satellite to far, RwaSat-1, a three-unit cubesat launched in 2019.

Large constellations have also been filed for by companies. Kepler, a Canadian startup working on a small satellite constellation, has filed a proposal for a system named Aether with roughly 115,000 satellites with the German government. The amount covers all satellites having an Aether terminal attached, not just the business’s spacecraft, according to the company on November 18, but the total is significantly greater than all active satellites in orbit currently.

During a panel discussion at Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week on December 13, Steve Collar, who is the chief executive officer of SES, said, “This is what occurs when there are no fines for bad behavior or even behavior that is not entirely coherent with the way the sector has acted up to a definite point in time.” “As a result, we’ve received plenty of ecstatic filings, the vast majority of which will never be implemented.”

“These extreme filings make no sense from an economic aspect, from an overcapacity standpoint,” stated Michel Azibert, who is the current deputy chief executive officer of Eutelsat. He noted that systems now in development by businesses such as SpaceX, Amazon, OneWeb, and Telesat, as well as high-throughput spacecraft in geostationary orbit, provide significantly more capacity than predicted demand. “It doesn’t make sense to start doubling or even tripling the capacity.” Both expressed concern that a few of these prospective constellations attempt to begin deployment. “We’re in danger of having a completely clogged space,” Azibert remarked. “The dangers of colliding are multiplied by a factor of ten.”

He chastised both the ITU and the Federal Communications Commission in the United States, which recently accepted proposals for a range of V-band constellations, including Astra Space’s proposal for a 13,600-satellite constellation. “I don’t think the ITU is going to be very proactive on this.  I envision the FCC acting as the world’s regulator for spectrum licensing in NGSO and LEO in general.  We should not be taken in by the hoopla and believe that the more constellations there are, the better for humanity because this is not the case. In my perspective, the opposite is true,” Azibert added.

The issue needs to be addressed at the national level, according to Mark Dankberg, who serves as the chairman of Viasat, because suggested systems need landing rights from national authorities. “Filings are becoming almost obsolete.” It doesn’t really matter if you file with the ITU or not. Getting landing rights is going to be a significant challenge,” he said. “We’ll begin to see reactions in this area as countries recognize that extending landing privileges to systems that disproportionately occupy space is simply not healthy for them.”

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