Elon Musk: SpaceX's Bright Starlink Satellites Won't Ruin the Night Sky

Space.com | 5/27/2019 | Tariq Malik
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The brilliant "train" in the night sky that is SpaceX's first 60 Starlink satellites has wowed some skywatchers, but it also sparked concern among some astronomers wondering what so many visible satellites could mean for scientific observing.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, it seems, is listening.

Musk - Twitter - Today - May - Teams

Musk wrote on Twitter today (May 27) that he's already instructed teams to look into making future Starlink internet communications satellites less shiny to lower their "albedo," or reflectivity. He pointed that out in response to a direct call from a com menter on Twitter.

"Agreed, sent a note to Starlink team last week specifically regarding albedo reduction," Musk wrote. "We'll get a better sense of value of this when satellites have raised orbits & arrays are tracking to sun."

SpaceX - Starlink - Satellites - Thursday - May

SpaceX launched the Starlink satellites Thursday (May 23) into an initial orbit 273 miles (440 kilometers) above Earth. Each satellite is equipped with Krypton ion thrusters to raise its orbit to a final 342 miles (550 km).

"I know people are excited about those images of the train of SpaceX Starlink satellites, but it gives me pause," planetary astronomer Alex Parker wrote on Twitter Saturday (May 25) as the first videos of the Starlink "train" were popping up. "They're bright, and there are going to be a lot of them."

Starlink - Satellites - Vanguard - Megaconstellation - Internet

The Starlink satellites are the vanguard of a planned 12,000-satellite megaconstellation designed to offer affordable internet service to people around the world who otherwise would not have such access.

Parker added that 12,000 bright satellites could potentially outnumber the stars visible to the unaided eye in the night sky. But he was holding off on any final judgement until the Starlink satellites reached their final orbit, as they may be less visible at that time.

Series - Twitter - Posts - Today - Musk

In a series of Twitter posts today, Musk assured astronomers and the public that...
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