Elon Musk’s SpaceX team has been busy these last few weeks building the world’s largest satellite constellation. Since May 2019, SpaceX has been launching its new Starlink internet satellites in batches of 60, with the goal of creating a “megaconstellation” – how futuristic.
So far, the tech giant has deployed more than 300 satellites into space and is working towards a network of 12,000, with the aim of improving global internet coverage. Starlink satellites will beam data across the globe at almost the speed of light—a speed that only fiber-optic internet comes close to matching.
With performance that far surpasses that of traditional satellite internet, and a global network unbounded by ground infrastructure limitations, Starlink will deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unavailable so far. According to Elon Musk, that is its main goal for now. People will be able to use it by purchasing a “pizza box” size antenna, produced by SpaceX as well.
The long term goal, however, is for this project to fund Elon Musk’s future ambitious projects such as colonizing Mars!
Each satellite weighs approximately 260kg and features a single solar array, significantly simplifying the system.
The satellites appear in a line crossing the night sky and their current orbital position has made them easier to spot in the past few days. If you still haven’t managed to do this, there will be a chance to see them flash across the night sky again.
What’s the problem?
Starlink visibility & space junk
Many of the satellites that were sent up in March appear very bright in the sky. Their close proximity to Earth and their vast size, along with wide flat panels which reflect light, make them shine bright in the sky.
However, SpaceX founder Elon Musk stated that the company was working on decreasing the brightness of the satellites, saying it was due to the angle of the satellites’ solar panels.
The company is working on reducing the reflection of the satellites in future launches, making them less easy to spot from Earth.
Another problem we will face in the future is the amount of so-called “space junk” that is increasing, and these satellites are additionally problematic as they are orbiting low. However, we are sure Elon will come up with a solution.
So do not miss your chance, turn your gaze up to the night sky and you may very well see a train of satellites cruising across the stars.
How to spot Starlink
You can track Starlink no matter where you are in the world, you just need to specify your location and look at the sky at a specific time. You can find that information at a number of websites, such as findstarlink.com, or james.darpinian.com. The choice is yours.
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