It is more than a month since SpaceX launched its first batch of 60 internet-shining satellites for the company's huge Starlink initiative and all but three satellites seem to work as intended. SpaceX was initially able to communicate with all 60 spacecraft after the launch, but eventually lost communication with three outliers. The uncommunicative trio will revolve around the earth for a while, but will eventually be drawn to our planet by gravity, where they will burn in the atmosphere.
The rest of the 57 satellites have worked as intended. Forty-five of the satellites have raised their heights with their thrusters on board and have reached their intended orbits of 342 miles (550 kilometers). Five of the satellites are still in the midst of increasing their orbits and another five are undergoing additional system checks before they increase their orbits. With regard to the remaining two satellites, SpaceX intentionally fired their thrusters on board with the aim of causing them to collide with the planet's atmosphere. There was nothing wrong with those satellites – the company just wanted to test the de-orbit process.
That means that five total satellites are led to a fiery grave. "Because of their design and low orbit, all five deorbiting satellites will disintegrate as soon as they enter the Earth's atmosphere to support the deployment of SpaceX for a clean environment," SpaceX said in a statement.
Launched on May 23, these 60 satellites were just the first of nearly 12,000 satellites that SpaceX plans to orbit. The company received permission from the Federal Communications Commission to launch a batch of 4,409 satellites, followed by another constellation of 7,518 satellites. The spacecraft is intended to fly in a relatively low orbit above the planet and to beam the internet coverage down to the ground, serving all parts of the world. The idea is to offer coverage to rural or remote areas, where laying fiber optics is not an option, as well as another option to offer internet services to customers.
The company will soon use its starling Starlink setup to stream video & # 39; s and play high-bandwidth video games to see how many service delays there are. But the company says it will also implement changes to future spacecraft based on this launch. "Although we are satisfied with the performance of the satellites so far, SpaceX will continue to use the operational capabilities of the satellites to inform future iterations," SpaceX said in a statement.
The fact that three of the SpaceX Starlink satellites have stopped communication may give rise to more concern among the space community. Some experts are already worried about how the constellation will contribute to the space scrap problem. There are currently 2,000 operational satellites orbit around the Earth, according to the latest figures from the European Space Agencyand the completed Starlink constellation will dramatically increase that number. Such a boost could increase the risk of collision from space satellites, creating more debris that could threaten other spacecraft. A study conducted by NASA argued that 99 percent of all satellites in these massive constellations must be removed from the orbit within five years to keep the risk of collision between the space low. And if a company cannot communicate with a satellite, it cannot drive and remove the vehicle from space.
However, SpaceX says it has implemented various design and system changes to ensure that the company does not pollute the environment. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that the Starlink spacecraft uses data from the US Air Force at the positions of other satellites in space to get out of the way and avoid collisions with nearby objects. And in April, the FCC approved SpaceX's request for its first batch of Starlink satellites to fly closer to Earth so that they would be dragged down and dropped out of the orbit.
Astronomers are also concerned. Light and radio astronomers have expressed concerns about how the constellation of Starlink might affect the perceptions of the universe. When the first 60 satellites came on the market, the spacecraft turned out to be much brighter than expected, and scientists warned that the light reflected from these vehicles could ruin their long-exposed images of the sky. Moreover, radio astronomers were also suspicious that the frequencies on which these satellites operate could cross with the frequencies that scientists use to study distant objects in space.
SpaceX says it collaborated with leading astronomy groups to think of ways to reduce potential effects on space science. A top group of astronomy has made statements in which they say they have been in proactive discussions with the company.
In the meantime, it is unclear when the next launch of Starlink satellites will take place. Musk said the company will continue to launch batches of 60 satellites at a time, with the aim of collecting between 1,000 and 2,000 spacecraft every year. It should take around 24 launches to reach global internet coverage, Musk said.