The SpaceX Starlink satellite scandal: Elon Musk’s Space X company has recently started launching thousands of satellite trains in orbit around the Earth to create instant internet access wherever you are on the planet. The satellites are called Starlink and come in trains of 60 satellites.
Space X has only just begun the launch of those satellites a few months ago but we are already in the hundreds of them in orbit. Like many other giants like Amazon or OneWeb in this race, Space X is aiming at providing all the citizen of the Earth global and instant access to the internet, even in the most remote places on Earth.
Musk is planning on sending at least a few thousands satellites at various orbits in 2020 and has already been granted a right to send several tens of thousands of them in the near future. This year Starlink satellites will be sent in the order of 60 every two weeks if all goes according to plan.
However global Internet access comes at a cost and has already spawned a huge uproar in the science and civilian communities. This cover image was taken by the Cerro Tololo observatory a fews months back and shows dozens of trails across the image.
Officials and scientists from the observatory observed in shock that more than 5 minutes of imagery was unusable because of the invasive streaks. Indeed even at a few hundreds, it is impossible to get relevant scientific data if dozens of trails pollute the image and mask the objects.
Many night sky watchers, astronomers and astrophotographers have also taken the internet by storm with petitions and rants about the controversial satellites, claiming they ruin any type of experience or image.
Now when starlink satellites reach their final orbit, they should be less visible, Musk claims. He even answered a few tweets saying that Space X is already looking into a solution to attenuate the reflectivity of the satellites, which is the main problem that causes them to shine so bright.
The starlink train of satellites only seems to be visible around twilight when the satellites catch the sunlight while the rest of the landscape still is in the shadows. However some of them at high orbit might still be visible longer during night time.
A few astronomers have also affirmed that as Elon’s Starlink reach a number of 12000, they will have potentially outnumbered the number of stars visible with the naked eye. In a recent video the talented astro Vlogger Alyn Wallace shares his experience and thoughts on the controversy. According to him and many more people enjoying the wonders of the night sky (like us), we might be living the last moments of the night sky as we know it.
There are already about 8000 satellites in orbit around the Earth and half a million space junk debris that float in space in the Earth’s vicinity. When you go out under a very dark sky, it is almost impossible not to see any satellites. However an entire and relentless grid of bright ‘moving stars’ will definitely create an unnatural and unpleasant light pollution, preventing to even get a good aurora experience without getting distracted by the satellites!
The SpaceX Starlink satellite scandal