US regulators have accused a small Silicon Valley venture of launching satellites without permission.
In December, the Federal Communications Commission denied Swarm Technologies, a sneaky startup company headed by a former Google employee, permission to launch four of its tiny satellites. But the company apparently launched them anyway, according to a report from the IEEE Spectrum technology news site. If confirmed, it would be the first time a company does it without the approval of the FCC.
The agency denied the request to launch the satellites due to security problems, the FCC said in its letter. The satellites, which measure less than 4 inches on one side, are too small to be detected by the US Space Surveillance Network. UU., Which tracks all man-made objects orbiting the Earth. Without the ability to track satellites, they could hit other spacecraft in orbit and cause significant damage, the agency said.
Swarm has been developing a network of small satellites called SpaceBees that could be used to connect over the Internet with billions of trackers and sensors around the world. The Menlo Park, California company was co-founded by CEO Sara Spangelo, who previously worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Google's concept of spacecraft for its moonshot X division.
The company says that It can reduce the cost of satellite communications for billions of connected devices. The idea is to build a global network that can be used to track ships and cars, as well as to enable new agricultural technologies and provide low-cost Internet access for humanitarian efforts in parts of the world that are difficult to reach. The four SpaceBees were supposed to be the first demonstration of Swarm's prototype hardware, according to the IEEE Spectrum article on Friday.
A spokesman for the FCC said the agency is "aware of the situation" with Swarm Technologies, but did not comment further on whether enforcement measures will be taken against the company. The FCC has also canceled the company's request for permission to conduct another operation related to the small satellites next month.
Swarm Technologies did not respond to a request for comments.
Several other companies, such as SpaceX and OneWeb, also want to use hundreds of small satellites to provide Internet connectivity of things devices.
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