A Silicon Valley start-up has been accused of sending four tiny satellites into orbit without permission. If it did so, this would be the first ever unauthorised satellite launch, and it could put other larger satellites in danger. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates commercial satellites from US companies, made the accusation in an email exchange with Sara Spangelo, CEO of Swarm Technologies, which was put online by IEEE Spectrum. The FCC had denied Swarm’s application for their “SpaceBee” satellites in December 2017. A manifest released by the Indian Space Research Organisation indicated that the tiny satellites were aboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle that launched from Sriharikota, India on 12 January. The SpaceBees are communications satellites intended to provide connectivity for internet-enabled devices and sensors. In the December denial letter, the FCC cited the diminutive size of the SpaceBees as troublesome. At only 10 centimetres square and 2.8 centimetres tall, they are too small to reliably track, making it difficult to be certain they won’t crash into other satellites.
Read More: New Scientist