SpaceX’s license to launch hundreds of internet satellites may have violated the law, experts say.

Astronomers could sue the FCC.

A federal agency may have violated the law when it licensed SpaceX to launch thousands of satellites, according to a forthcoming paper. That raises the possibility that disgruntled astronomers could sue.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved SpaceX’s request to launch thousands of satellites in March 2018 — part of the rocket company’s plan to blanket the Earth in high-speed satellite internet.

SpaceX has already launched 180 of those satellites and plans to send up additional batches every two weeks throughout 2020, for a total of 1,400 by the end of the year. The company hopes to finish the entire project, called Starlink, in 2027. By then, the network could include up to 42,000 satellites — nearly 20 times the number of operational satellites in orbit today.

But according to Ramon Ryan, a second-year law student at Vanderbilt University, the FCC might have violated a federal environmental law when it licensed the SpaceX project. Two legal experts agree, though the FCC rejects the idea.

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