I don’t think the human race will survive the next thousand years unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I’m an optimist. We will reach out to the stars. – STEPHEN HAWKING, The Daily Telegraph, October 16, 2001
This article is with reference to one news article I read today “SpaceX satellites pose a new headache for Astronomers“. This article is based on captured footage of train of brightly lit SpaceX ascending through the sky by an Astronomer.
Starlink will connect the globe with reliable and affordable high-speed broadband services pic.twitter.com/dWVvPwVWU4— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 24, 2019
As the first phase of the Starlink project, SpaceX launched a Falcon-9 rocket from pad 40, Cape Canaveral packed with 60 flat packed broadband beaming satellites to give high speed and cheaper internet to our planet. This could grow till 12,000 in future. Starlink is the plan by SpaceX to put 12000 satellites into lower Earth orbit ( LEO ) that offers low speed, low-latency and cheaper internet access to anyone anywhere on the planet.
This would happen in phases as about 8000 satellites orbiting just 500km above the planet and remaining 4000 satellites at 1200 km. Each satellite is around 227kgs with multiple high throughput antennas and a single solar array. The platforms are equipped with electrical propulsion that expels electrically charged atoms of Kryptons to provide thrust. Starlink satellites are 65 times nearer than geostationary satellites and would offer 10 Gbps which is faster than fibre optic internet
As of now, telecommunication satellites sit in Geostationary orbit which is thousands of miles from Earth’s Equator, follow the direction of earth’s rotation, so appearing stay at one place and serving one region. As per union of concerned scientists, there are just 2000 operational satellites in orbit today. The internet from this satellite is relatively slower than the internet from Starlink.
As already discussed, the advantages of Starlink would be as below
- High speed internet
- Low latency
- Cheaper and affordable
- Internet being high speed will help the finance industry where billions of dollars move within faction of seconds.
- Due to low latency, this developments will help teleconferencing companies
- Visibility of the constellation from the ground would be an issue with an increasing number of satellites in space. This will interfere with astronomical observations from the ground.
- Reflection of the satellites also impacts the visibility
- Increases the space junk after the satellite end of life as the satellites would be orbiting around the earth despite not working.
- With a plan of 12,000 satellites in the near future and perhaps may multiply this during future generations might outnumber the stars. Future generations would be seeing more satellites than stars in the sky which is unnatural and needed to be thought about. US Federal communications council has allowed to reduce the number of satellites as well as allowed to operate at a lower altitude than previously agreed.
- Due to exponential multiplication of satellites in future, the next generations night see more satellites than stars in the sky and for sure is not the right condition.
- Risk of potential collisions through the propulsion might help to minimize this risk. If the satellite is dead may not respond to the ground control and may hit other operative satellites and increase the space debris
Based on my thinking, the below would be my solutions to tackle this issue
- Reduce the reflectivity of future satellites. Elon Musk already agreed to work on reducing the reflectivity of future satellites.
- Reducing the number of satellites by bundling for common objective despite different companies sending them. This needed a company to company technology venture for developing the satellite keeping space less populated.
- Develop Removedebris spacecraft to dispose of the space debris
Don’t forget to comment below with your solutions to this problem.
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Note: The article is totally my own thoughts and not necessarily anyone needs to agree with my thoughts and ideas.