(This August 26 story re-filed to restore the words deleted in the last paragraph)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Friday upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to approve SpaceX’s plan to deploy some Starlink satellites in lower-than-planned Earth orbits , as part of its push to provide space-based broadband internet.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX received FCC approval in 2021 to fly 2,824 satellites in lower orbits to provide high-speed broadband internet service to people who don’t currently have access to the internet. Competitors Viasat Inc and DISH Network Corp have challenged the FCC’s approval.
Viasat said Friday that it believes “the decision is a setback for both space safety and environmental protection.”
The company added that if the court compels the FCC to resolve “The complex issues surrounding the deployment of megaconstellations in (low-Earth orbit), we believe that detrimental effects that could have lingered for decades or even centuries could be avoided.”
In a court In the document, Viasat noted the size of SpaceX’s deployment plans, noting that “by comparison, approximately 10,000 satellites have been launched in human history.”
The court ruling found that “Viasat operates only one satellite. satellites flying close to the SpaceX constellation,” adding that “this injury theory is too speculative.”
Dish noted that the decision did not change the FCC’s ban on SpaceX and other operators from interfering with satellite operators’ offerings Rules for Television Services. “We will remain vigilant to ensure SpaceX’s operations do not harm our millions of satellite customers,” DISH said.
SpaceX had no immediate comment.
On Thursday, U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile US Inc said it will use SpaceX’s Starlink satellites to provide network access to mobile users in parts of the U.S., outlining connecting users’ phones directly to Plans for satellites in orbit.
The new plan will exist alongside T-mobile’s existing cellular service.
SpaceX has launched nearly 3,000 low-Earth orbit Starlink satellites since 2019, easily outpacing rivals OneWeb and Amazon.com Inc’s Project Kuiper.
Last month, the FCC rejected SpaceX’s Starlink application for an $885.5 million internet service subsidy after an initial grant of funding in 2020.
(Reporting by David Shepardson and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Sandra Maler and Chizu Nomiyama)