May 27, 2021

SpaceX Starlink: how it could kickstart an ‘uncontrolled experiment’

Posted by in categories: engineering, internet, satellites

In a paper for Nature this month, researchers claim the development of mega-constellations like Starlink “risks multiple tragedies of the commons, including tragedies to ground-based astronomy, Earth orbit, and Earth’s upper atmosphere.”

Perhaps the biggest effects could come as the satellites start to deorbit, sparking what could be a major experiment in geoengineering.

This week’s SpaceX launch is the 29th batch of Starlink satellites since the first in May 2019, building out the firm’s internet connectivity constellation. Starlink aims to offer high-speed and low latency internet access almost anywhere with a view of a ground terminal.

SpaceX has now launched 1737 satellites for Starlink, with 951 operational. Starlink satellites typically take a few months to move into position and start operations. Starlink is already the biggest single constellation in space, but the firm has applied for permission to launch up to 42000 satellites.

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