SpaceX has launched more than 120 Starlink satellites into orbit since May. The project seeks to offer access to affordable internet all over the world, but some have criticized the implementation. Some astronomers have criticized the plan, arguing that the bright lights emitted by the satellites hinder the ability to observe stars and other objects from Earth. The cluster of satellites moves along the sky and can appear in front of observatories and telescopes.
The company started to work on the project in 2015, in an attempt to increase internet coverage and bring the utility to remote areas where the implementation of regular internet providing services would be quite complicated and costly.
Satellites can be seen from Earth, even if they tend to be faint. In some cases, the panels mounted on the can reflect a high-intensity burst of sunlight towards Earth and are considerably brighter for a limited time. These flashes of light can affect tools used by astronomers, leading to corrupted data and false alerts.
SpaceX Starlink Satellites Attract the Ire of Astronomers
In March 2019, SpaceX requested the Union of Concerned Scientists stated that there are more than 2,000 satellites in orbit without the Starlink satellites. The number could grow as SpaceX received the permission to launch 10,000 satellites and has already, to gain new approval to launch an additional 30,000.
Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, has stated that there are many satellites into orbit across the world and they are invisible most of the time, having little to no impact on astronomical research and advancements.
However, it seems that SpaceX is listening to the complaint, and it is working on new strategies that will allow the launch of new satellites without disrupting astronomical work. The first change comes as more physical one as new Starlink satellites will be painted black. Some of the orbits will also be adjusted to keep satellites away from critical locations.