SpaceX’s Starlink has passed the first of a series of regulatory hurdles needed before it can operate as a foreign-owned satellite operator with permission to use Australian radio frequencies.
Local news outlet ABC News Australia reports Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been approved by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to become part of the Foreign Space Objects Determination (FSOD), a list of companies that may use Australian airspace.
ACMA, however, notes that SpaceX must still go through a more thorough regulatory process before ultimately obtaining a license to be able to be allocated Australian frequencies to use for communications between its satellites and ground stations based in the land down under.
“Inclusion in the determination does not confer a right on that entity to obtain a license, rather it is a prerequisite before a space apparatus license can be issued,” ACMA says.
SpaceX was included in Australia’s FSOD late last month, following the aerospace company’s application in November last year. In a letter to ACMA sent with its application, Matt Botwin, director of global satellite government affairs at SpaceX said being approved for the FSOD is a crucial first step toward providing high-speed Internet services across all sectors in Australia, including the residential, commercial, and institutional sectors.
Starlink is Elon Musk’s futuristic plan to launch an interconnected constellation of thousands of satellites to provide high-speed broadband Internet services to the entire world at lower prices. Early this year, SpaceX launched the first 60 satellites of the decade from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with plans of deploying 60 satellites twice every month in 2020. Currently, there are 240 Starlink satellites in orbit. SpaceX plans to begin offering services in the US and Canada later this year, with hopes of rapidly expanding to other countries in 2021.
This comes amid news that SpaceX may spin-off Starlink into a separate business of its own and go for an IPO. “Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public,” said SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell yesterday at a private investor event hosted by JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Miami.