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The FCC chair wants to approve SpaceX’s ambitious plans for satellite internet

The FCC chair wants to approve SpaceX’s ambitious plans for satellite internet
[Photo: Lance Cheung/ U.S. Department of Agriculture/Wikimedia Commons]

Ajit Pai, the head of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, has made an interesting request to the agency’s other four members: He wants them to approve SpaceX’s ambitious plan to deploy a mass of satellites, which would beam broadband internet back to earth.

Pai tweeted his intentions this morning, writing that, “To bridge the digital divide, esp. in hard-to-reach areas, we’ll have to be innovative.”

The SpaceX project was first proposed in early 2015. It could eventually consist of as many as 4,425 satellites and cost at least $10 billion, Forbes reported in November. The Los Angeles Times says that Elon Musk’s company could launch prototypes of its satellites as early as this weekend.

“The two satellites, known as Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b, are set to launch as the so-called secondary payload on Saturday’s Falcon 9 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California,” the Times wrote, citing a February 1 letter to the FCC from a SpaceX executive. The Times says the letter was submitted to the agency on Monday.

If SpaceX’s proposal is adopted, Pai wrote in a release, it would be the first time an American company has been granted approval to deploy low-Earth-orbit satellites for the purposes of providing broadband services.