Traffic in space is on the way to become too crowded. SpaceX’s plan to build a 12,000 Starlink satellite network by 2024, has become a reason for the International Astronomical Union to take action.
The UN Committee for Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will have to make calls concerning SpaceX plans. IAU is also bringing the attention of the world government representatives on the consequences of such commercial ambitions.
For now, SpaceX launched five batches of 60 Starlink satellites. They are targeting internet services in the Northern U.S. and Canada. But they intend to expand rapidly to global by 2021, so they changed the first 12,000 satellites plan, and added another 30,000. That means there will be 42,000 new satellites crowding the already overcrowded space. IAU’s worries seem to be rightfully placed.
The International Astronomical Union vs. SpaceX Starlink Network
There will be tens of thousands of satellites orbiting Earth in the area where important astronomical observations take place. Some of them will be observable with the naked eye, and dawn or dusk, when sunlight will reflect in them. They are light polluting.
They could also interfere with observations of radio-frequency and other invisible radiation due to their transmissions. This kind of damage couldn’t be estimated so far, and hopes are they won’t be when it is too late.
This will dramatically affect observations and scientific data. Scientists will have to work the operations on a program imposed by Starlink, and its satellite activity. The pictures of the Universe will need photoshop so that the satellites will be taken out of the picture.
“A great deal of attention is also being given to the protection of the uncontaminated view of the night sky from dark places, which should be considered a non-renounceable world human heritage,” declared the International Astronomical Union. That’s common sense. But then common sense never got along with commerce. They speak different languages and have contradicting needs.