The next launch by Elon Musk's SpaceX will try to keep Starlink's satellites from blocking the stars
- SpaceX’s third Starlink mission and the first launch of 2020 is scheduled to take off from Cape Canaveral on 6 January.
- The Starlink ‘
satellite constellation’ has faced heavy criticism for blocking the view of outer space by with its brightness.
- One of the satellites in the next batch of Starlink’s mission will experiment with a non-reflective coating to keep the satellites from getting in the way of astronomical studies.
Astronomers and scientists have often criticised the ‘satellite constellation’ for being too bright. When the first set of 60 satellites streaked through the sky, the results ‘ satellite train’ rang fears of man-made lights outnumbering the stars in the sky — lights that will hamper the view of on-ground telescopes trying to see into the far reaches of the universe.
"What caught everybody off guard was just how bright the initial launch was. It was pretty dramatic," said Jeffrey Hall, the director of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.
One of the planned 60 satellites that will take off with be experimenting with non-reflective coating along the bottom. The hope is, if successful, the coating will be enough to allay fears of satellites getting in the way of astronomical studies.
Falcon 9 was originally scheduled to take off with the next set of Starlink satellites today but due to uncertain weather conditions, the company has delayed the launch to no earlier than 6 January.
Brighter than starlight
After the first set of satellites launches on 23 May 2019, astronomer Alex Parker said his “ heart sank” when he saw the first pictures.
I know people are excited about those images of the train of SpaceX Starlink satellites, but it gives me pause. Th… https://t.co/bfHjpFLd5l— Alex Parker (@Alex_Parker) 1558763890000
Despite Musk’s assurances that satellites will have “0% impact” on the astronomical discoveries, scientists have furiously disagreed. Even after reaching their designated altitude of 550 kilometres, the satellites are visible on the edge of the horizon to the naked eye.
So, when telescopes are pointed to the sky — the satellites are “ferociously bright” according to Hall.
The Astronomical Society and
Satellites are set to crowd Earth’s orbit
Currently, the fuss is only over 60 of SpaceX’s satellites. But, the company has approval SpaceX already has the approval to launch a total of 12,000 satellites for Starlink. Furthermore. it’s also seeking permission from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to launch an additional 30,000 satellites. This will bring the total up to 42,000 internet satellites - about 5 times more spacecraft than humanity has ever flown.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has already approved SpaceX’s request to operate its satellites across 72 lanes around the Earth, instead of the original 24.
Satellites in orbit around Earth currently stand at around 2,000. Even if you take inactive satellites, space junk and objects into accounts — the total cluttering of orbit still stands at around 23,000.
Satellite projects like SpaceX’s Starlink, Amazon’s Kuiper and OneWeb will multiply the congestion in Earth’s low-earth orbit (LEO) a few times over.
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