FCC defends Starlink approval as Viasat and Dish urge court to block SpaceX license

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The Federal Communications Commission urged a court to back the agency's approval of SpaceX Starlink satellite launches against a lawsuit filed by Viasat and Dish. Judges at the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit previously rejected Viasat's motion for a stay that would have halted SpaceX's ongoing launches of low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites pending the resolution of the lawsuit. Judges found that Viasat failed to show that it is likely to win its case alleging that the FCC improperly approved the satellite launches. Judges said at the time that Viasat did not meet "the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review" but granted a motion to expedite the appeal. The FCC said in its new brief that the "commission reasonably granted SpaceX's request to modify the orbital altitude of 2,824 of its Starlink satellites, which the commission concluded would serve the public interest by improving broadband access in underserved areas and reducing the potential to generate orbital debris. Neither Dish's arguments regarding the potential for interference nor the criticisms by Viasat and the Balance Group of the commission's review of environmental issues have merit." The FCC has given SpaceX several approvals of satellite launches for a total of nearly 12,000 satellites. This lawsuit challenges a license modification granted in April 2021 that lowered the altitude of 2,824 satellites from 1,100-1,300 km to 540-570 km. Viasat said this license change that it wants the court to vacate constitutes SpaceX's "final authorization to deploy a specific tranche of 2,824 low-earth orbit satellites."

FCC defends Starlink approval as Viasat, Dish urge court to block SpaceX license