Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and chief executive, believes SpaceX’s growing Starlink broadband satellite constellation will not have a lasting impact on astronomy, according tomedia CNET. “I’m sure we’re not going to have any impact on astronomical discoveries,” Musk said monday in a keynote speech at the opening day of the Satellite 2020 conference in Washington, D.C. “
SpaceX is already launching 4,000 Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit, a giant satellite constellation that will provide high-speed, low-latency Internet to almost anylocation on Earth. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given the green light to SpaceX to launch up to 12,000 satellites and has submitted documents to international regulators that could run a total of 40,000 satellites.
The first 60 Starlink satellites launched last year surprised many by misleading many about UFOs and masking many astronomical observations. SpaceX is committed to solving the problem and has been working with astronomers over the past year to reduce the impact of satellites on science.
Many in the astronomy community are skeptical of SpaceX’s commitment to solving all problems, pointing out that the company continues to launch dozens of new satellites every few weeks before developing a solution. Astronomers have launched several petitions calling for the launch to be suspended. But SpaceX is at a critical juncture because FCC regulations require it to have at least 2,212 satellites in operation by 2024.
“If this (impact) is greater than zero, we will take corrective action,” Mr Musk said. We are carrying out a lot of experiments. Musk pointed out that efforts had been made to paint parts of the satellite black to reduce reflection. One such “darksat” has been launched, and some astronomers report that it does not appear to be much less reflective than other Starlink satellites.
But Musk points to a new approach that involves starting a “awnings”, which could also reduce reflectivity. At the same time, the number of Starlink satellites launched by the company will continue to grow. The next batch of satellites is scheduled for Launch on Saturday.