Response to OneWeb r

Ex PARTE PRESENTATION NOTIFICATION LETTER submitted by Space Exploration Holdings, LLC

SpaceX Response to OneWeb re STAs


This document pretains to SES-STA-20190410-00516 for Special Temporal Authority on a Satellite Earth Station filing.

April 23, 2019

Marlene H. Dortch
Federal Communications Commission
445 Twelfth Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554

         Re:      Space Exploration Holdings, LLC, IBFS File No. SAT-STA-20190405-00023
                  SpaceX Services, Inc., IBFS File Nos. SES-STA-20190410-00513 through -00519

Dear Ms. Dortch:

        This is to inform you that Patricia Cooper, on behalf of Space Exploration Holdings, LLC
(“SpaceX”), spoke by telephone today with Jose Albuquerque of the Commission’s International
Bureau to discuss the above referenced requests for Special Temporary Authority (“STA”).
SpaceX expects to launch its first tranche of non-geostationary orbit (“NGSO”) satellites in May.
In anticipation of this launch, SpaceX and its sister company, SpaceX Services, Inc. (“SpaceX
Services”), have filed these STA requests so that the satellites can communicate with seven earth
stations during the orbit-raising phase of their deployment. WorldVu Satellites Limited
(“OneWeb”) recently submitted a letter opposing those STA requests. 1 As discussed below,
OneWeb’s objections are frivolous and seem more like a last ditch effort to delay a competitor
from initiating the process that will bring true broadband services to millions of Americans in
underserved and unserved areas. The Commission should reject these objections and grant the
STA requests.
       Much of OneWeb’s opposition arises from a fundamental misunderstanding. Specifically,
OneWeb asserts that SpaceX could have avoided the need for STAs had it waited to schedule
launch of its first NGSO satellites until it obtained Commission approval of the underlying
applications. 2 To the contrary, even if the Commission had granted the pending space station
modification and earth station license applications months ago, these STAs would still be
necessary because regular licenses do not authorize communications with NGSO spacecraft such
as these during the orbit-raising phase – only after they reach their assigned orbital positions. 3
Authorization for SpaceX Services’ tracking, telemetry & control (“TT&C”) earth station is

    See Letter from Brian D. Weimer to Marlene H. Dortch, IBFS File Nos. SAT-STA-20190405-00023
    et al. (Apr. 18, 2019) (“OneWeb Opposition”).
    See id. at 3.
    The Commission has recognized not only that STAs are appropriate in this pre-operational context, but
    also that “many activities in the pre-operational phase are highly transitory in nature, often involving a
    series of spacecraft maneuvers, and, therefore, it may be difficult to specify precise orbital parameters
    for those operations.” Mitigation of Orbital Debris, 19 FCC Rcd. 11567, ¶ 38 (2004).

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Marlene H. Dortch
April 23, 2019
Page 2 of 3

particularly critical to allow it to communicate with and control the spacecraft after deployment
and throughout the orbit-raising process. As SpaceX noted in its STA request, the Commission
by rule authorizes such critical capabilities for geostationary satellites from deployment through
orbit-raising phases, and has proposed -- but has not yet adopted -- a similar rule for NGSO
systems. 4 As a non-U.S.-licensed operator, OneWeb may not have been aware of this fact and the
resulting necessity of an STA.
        OneWeb also argues that SpaceX and SpaceX Services have failed to make the showing
necessary to justify issuance of an STA. 5 Yet when satellites are launched, it is hard to imagine a
need more critical than the ability to establish control over those satellites – which the TT&C earth
station will provide. Moreover, the gateway STA requests would allow SpaceX to confirm the
operational status of its satellites immediately upon orbital insertion, rather than waiting weeks
while the satellites are orbit raising before determining whether the satellites are functioning
properly. Accordingly, these STA requests are consistent with the Commission’s recent proposal
that NGSO operators inject satellites at lower altitudes and only maneuver them up to their planned
operational altitude after they have been determined to have full functionality – and its recognition
that “ensuring functionality of spacecraft in a large constellation may be particularly important.” 6
Thus, contrary to OneWeb’s assertions, SpaceX does not seek STAs for its own convenience or
for commercial reasons. Rather, its requests align with the public interest in maintaining a safe
operating environment in space. In these circumstances, it would be extraordinary were the
Commission to deny SpaceX the ability to communicate with its spacecraft immediately after
         Judging by the extensive amount of material OneWeb has filed challenging SpaceX’s
modification versus the absence of technical analysis on its own RF interference or orbital debris
risk in support of its proposed modifications, it seems OneWeb is more focused on stymying others
from providing broadband to consumers than it is in providing service itself. But OneWeb’s
commercial interests cannot override the public interest in both competition and space safety.
Accordingly, the Commission should reject OneWeb’s objections and grant the requested STAs.
                                               Respectfully submitted,

                                               William M. Wiltshire
                                               Counsel to SpaceX

    See 47 C.F.R. § 25.282; Mitigation of Orbital Debris in the New Space Age, 33 FCC Rcd. 11352, ¶ 70
    (2018) (“Orbital Debris NPRM”).
    See OneWeb Opposition at 1-3.
    Orbital Debris NPRM, ¶ 48.


Marlene H. Dortch
April 23, 2019
Page 3 of 3

cc:    Brian D. Weimer
       Tom Sullivan
       Jose Albuquerque
       Karl Kensinger
       Stephen Duall

                                 CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

       I hereby certify that, on this 23rd day of April, 2019, a copy of the foregoing letter was
served via First Class mail upon:

                       Brian D. Weimer
                       Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP
                       2099 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
                       Suite 100
                       Washington, DC 20006

                                                      /s/ Peyton J. Beatrice
                                                      Peyton J. Beatrice

Document Created: 2019-04-24 01:28:43
Document Modified: 2019-04-24 01:28:43

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