As revealed in a public statement on the matter: “This is the first approval of a US-licensed satellite constellation to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies.”
What does this have to do with cleantech you ask? Well, the broadband satellite plans clearly represent a notable part of SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s broader plans for both firms.
As has been noted by many industry observers (and a fair number of commentators here), it seems fairly likely that SpaceX and Tesla will end up merging in some capacity or other at some point. The reality today is that the firms share some services where synergies are possible — though, there’s clearly room for more integration in that regard.
For instance, a SpaceX held satellite communications network would of course allow Tesla to cut or eliminate its reliance upon traditional carriers — with all new Tesla vehicles instead possibly getting their internet services via satellite, as an example. A lot of other possibilities exist as well.
Reuters provides more: “The system proposed by privately held SpaceX, as Space Exploration Holdings is known, will use 4,425 satellites, the FCC said. … The Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday that SpaceX plans to launch a Falcon 9 rocket on April 2 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. ‘The rocket will carry a communications satellite,’ the FAA said.”
“The FCC said SpaceX has been granted authority to use frequencies in the Ka (20/30 GHz) and Ku (11/14 GHz) bands. Musk, who is also the founder and chief executive of electric automaker Tesla Inc, said in 2015 that SpaceX planned to launch a satellite-internet business that would help fund a future city on Mars.”
“SpaceX wanted to create a ‘global communications system’ that Musk compared to ‘rebuilding the internet in space.’ It would be faster than traditional internet connections, he said.
Those certainly represent grand plans which may or may not come to fruition, but some degree of communications independence does seem likely for both SpaceX and Tesla within the not too distant future.