Starlink is the name of a satellite network developed by privately owned Spaceflight to provide low-cost internet service to remote locations. While SpaceX finally hopes to have as many as 42,000 satellites in the so-called megaconstellation The scale and scale of the Starlink project caused astronomers and amateur sky explorers to flutter, fearing that bright orbiting objects would interfere with the observations of the universe.
SpaceX’s satellite internet proposal was announced in January 2015, although it was not named at the time, but CEO Elon Musk said the company had filed documents with international regulators to place about 4,000 satellites in the loop. Earth̵7;s low-level orbit
“We’re talking about something in the long term, like rebuilding the internet in space,” Musk said during a keynote in Seattle when the project was revealed. (Musk still owns the electric car company Tesla, but Tesla doesn’t produce satellites. )
Musk’s estimates of the initial satellite numbers will soon rise as he hopes to capture a portion of the $ 1 trillion global internet connectivity market to help achieve his vision of colonization on Mars. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has authorized SpaceX to fly 12,000 Starlink satellites, and the company has filed documents with international regulators to lift an additional 30,000 spacecraft.
To put this in perspective, only about 4,300 active artificial satellites orbited the Earth, and only 11,670 of them have been launched in all history, according to the European Space Agency.
SpaceX launched its first two Starlink test vehicles, named TinTinA and TinTinB, in February 2018. Based on preliminary information, the company has asked regulators to allow the fleet to be allowed to operate at lower than originally planned, and the FCC agreed.
The first 60 Starlink satellites were launched on May 23, 2019 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.The satellite achieved an altitude of 340 miles (550 km) low enough to be pulled down to Earth by dragging the atmosphere in no time. How many years so that they don’t turn into space junk when they die?
How does Starlink satellite work?
Each current Starlink satellite weighs 573 pounds (260 kilograms) and, according to Sky & Telescope magazine, is approximately the size of a desk.
Rather than transmitting the internet via electrical cables, which must be physically laid down to reach distant locations, satellite internet works by transmitting data through space vacuum, which travels 47% faster than fiber cables, Business Insider reports. .
Internet satellites currently operate using large spacecraft orbiting 22,236 miles (35,786 km) above a point on Earth, but at such distances there is often a significant delay in transmitting and receiving times. By being close to our planet and being networked together, Starlink satellites aim to deliver massive amounts of data quickly to any point on the planet, even in the ocean and in the very hard-to-reach places where fiber optic cables are available. Optic can be expensive to put down.
Musk said the Starlink network will be able to provide “moderately” Internet service after 400 spacecraft become available and “moderate” coverage after about 800 satellites become operational.
At the end of May 2021, SpaceX launched more than 1,730 Starlink satellites in total.The constellation is now providing broadband in select areas around the world as part of the beta testing program.
Terrestrial users gain access to broadband signals using a kit sold by SpaceX.The kit includes a small satellite dish with a tripod, wireless router, cable and power supply, according to the company’s website.
Controversy about Starlink
Within days of the launch of the first 60 Starlink satellites, celestial explorers encountered a straight line of pearls as the spacecraft rises overhead in the morning. Tips on the web show others how to track gorgeous impressions.
“This is an amazing sight, and I shouted, ‘Oh wow!’ When the object’s illuminated ‘train’ was seen, ‘Marco Langbroek, a satellite follower from the Netherlands, told Space.com by email. Before “They were brighter than I expected.”
That brightness surprised almost everyone, including SpaceX and the astronomy community. Researchers began to panic and shared images of satellites in their data, such as this one from the Lowell Observatory in Arizona.
They expressed special concern about future images from high-sensitivity telescopes such as the Vera Rubin Observatory (formerly the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope), which will study the entire universe in detail and are expected to be published online in 2022. So is radio astronomy. Planning for interference from a Starlink radio-based antenna.
Related: In the photo: SpaceX launches a third of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit.
The International Astronomical Union expressed concern in a statement published in June 2019, “Satellite constellations can pose a significant or debilitating threat to existing and critical future astronomical infrastructures, and we urge scientists to Designers and installers, as well as policy makers, work with astronomy. Community in a concerted effort to analyze and understand the impacts of satellite constellations “The statement said.
SpaceX received more backlash in September 2019 when the European Space Agency (ESA) announced it had ordered the Aeolus satellite to maneuver and avoid collisions with “Starlink 44”, one of the first 60 satellites in the space. megaconstellation The agency took action after learning from the US military that the probability of clashing was 1 in 1000 – 10 times higher than the ESA threshold for conducting collision avoidance maneuvers.
What does SpaceX plan to do?
SpaceX said it would work with space organizations and agencies to reduce the impact of The megaconstellation and company have sought to quell astronomers’ concerns about Starlink’s impact on the night sky.
“SpaceX is very committed to finding the way forward, so our Starlink project does not hinder the value of the research you are doing,” said Patricia Cooper, SpaceX vice president of satellite affairs, told astronomers at the conference. America in January 2020, the Astronomical Society in Honolulu, Nature reports.
SpaceX has taken action on this effect. For example, the recently launched Starlink satellite sports helmet designed to prevent sunlight from shining too much from reflective parts.
But a large number of satellites in Megaconstellations from SpaceX and other private space companies such as OneWeb suggested that light pollution and other problems could continue, and supporters have called for more regulation from government agencies.
“This is a gift for the leaders of the world, more of a loner than any other event has ever had before: Protect Our Skies,” wrote stargazer Arwen Rimmer in The Space Review, a weekly online publication devoted to Articles and opinion about space in early 2020
- Watch a video explaining the Starlink satellite project from SpaceX.
- Read how astrophysicist Ethan Siegel thinks SpaceX can fix the damage the Starlink satellite has inflicted on astronomy, published in Forbes.
- Follow the hashtag #starlink on Twitter to stay up-to-date with the latest news and opinion about Starlink.
This article was updated on May 28, 2021 by Space.com Senior Writer, Mike Wall.