A plan by Elon Musk’s SpaceX to deploy some Starlink satellites at a lower Earth orbit was upheld by an appeals court on Friday.
The original approval came from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2021.
The SpaceX plan was part of a push to offer space-based broadband internet for people who currently lack access to internet service.
The plan to fly 2,824 satellites at a lower orbit was opposed by competitors Viasat Inc. and DISH Network Corp.
Viasat said it believes the “decision is a setback for both space safety and environmental protection.”
The company added if the court had forced the FCC to address “complicated issues surrounding deployment of mega-constellations in (low-earth orbit), we believe harmful impacts that otherwise may persist for decades or even centuries to come could have been avoided.”
In a court filing, Viasat noted the SpaceX deployment plan was massive, noting “by way of comparison, approximately 10,000 satellites, total, have been launched in all of human history.”
“We will remain vigilant in ensuring that SpaceX operations do not harm our millions of satellite customers,” DISH said.
SpaceX did not immediately comment.
this past week, T-Mobile US and SpaceX announced they are teaming up to boost cell phone service to remote areas via Starlink satellites.
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The companies said the service would cut out the need for cell towers and would extend cell service to areas where it currently doesn’t exist.
The new service is expected to begin with texting in a beta phase beginning by the end of next year.
Reuters contributed to this report.