Why SpaceX's Star Satellites Caught Astronomers Off Guard

rod

Oct 22, 2019
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Astronomers have had five years to brace for the impact of SpaceX's Star internet-satellite megaconstellation, but the first few batches of the spacecraft still managed to catch the community off guard.

Why SpaceX's Star Satellites Caught Astronomers Off Guard : Read more
"the envisioned numbers have grown since then. SpaceX now has permission from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to loft about 12,000 Starlink craft, and the company has applied to an international radio-frequency regulator for approval of up to 30,000 additional satellites."

My observation - the full impact and what astronomers will need to brace for, is yet to come :)
 
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Jan 10, 2020
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This is space junk. Reminds me of all the plastic water bottles everyone uses and throws away. This project should have been denied. It is ridiculous that one man/company is allowed to muck up our skies. Now we should build a satellite that can destroy these pieces of space trash.
 
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Reactions: Truthseeker007
Jan 10, 2020
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My thoughts are that we are in a transition period. Mankind is still messing around on the surface of this planet and in low earth orbit. The ultimate place for astronomical observations is from the far side of he moon. Both optical telescopes and radio telescopes will be sheltered from earth chatter (human interference, radio emissions etc), no atmosphere, no movement due to geophysical activity etc. Perfect environment. Spacex Starship, when developed may allow such equipment to be transported here. While mankind is in a transition period there will be conflict.
 
Jan 10, 2020
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The surface area of this planet is huge. My understanding is that normally you will only see one or two starlink satellites at a time (intensity of a star) and only near dawn or dusk.
 
Jan 10, 2020
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Elon says some outlandish things and in the eyes of many is not likeable. It is not about the likeability of Elon. What we have seen in recent years is the transition from state owned space agencies only being involved in launch, to private sector involvement. This has resulted in innovation and driving down launch costs.
 
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Jan 10, 2020
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The more I read about this the more pissed off I'm getting. Firstly what gives the US the sole right to decide what goes up into space and flies over the heads of every person on the planet. That's surely a global decision that needs to be made. Secondly Musk is creating space junk on a massive scale. Thirdly and most worryingly the idiot hasn't even got approval for the frequency he's going to use. BTW no mobile phone in existence today can transmit into space (which is why you cant get wifi on a plane from the ground) so everyone who wants to use this great new network is going to have to purchase some pretty powerful and expensive equipment. So its bullshit that he's saving the planet or helping poor countries in Africa. It's just stupid and ignorant and should never have been approved in the first place.... Rant over.
 
Nov 23, 2019
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Eldon Musk appears to be a pot-smoking idiot and narcissist. He doesn't give a damn about astronomy, but apparently is proud of acting like a naked flasher in a school-room, "getting attention", and even the astronomy websites (space.com) cannot bring themselves to call out this destructive fool and publicly shame him. And astronomers, there is a LOT you can do. Every astronomy department should write a letter to Trump, the head of NASA and other top science officials, condemning Musk's actions, and the licenses he has been given to do such an irresponsible thing. Inaction only guarantees more of the same. For example, be prepared that he will offer to build a big space telescope, to replace the soon-to-be unusuable ground telescopes - but only he and his buddies will have full access and controls. Then the Chinese and Russians will also have their own similar thousands of satellites, so why should they give them non-reflective coatings, if the USA leads the way otherwise? And how soon until satellite billboards will appear, advertising for dish-soap, or casinos? Astronomers can also join with citizen's groups who are fighting against the 5G networks for health and privacy reasons, or declare a boycott on behalf of nature and the night sky, to which millions or billions will embrace it. Also oppose government funding for ANY of Musk's projects, including the Tesla cars. Either you fight back or resign yourselves to the back of the bus. I shame the astronomers as much as Musk, for sitting on their asses while this obscenity takes place on their watch. He and his paid buddies are wrecking the night sky for everyone. And this appears to be only the beginning of additional insults to clear skies.
 
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Nov 23, 2019
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A question for everyone: Is Musk the true inventive genius behind SpaceX and other things he finances? Or is he just the CEO putting his name to other people's work, ideas and inventions?
 
Nov 23, 2019
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Astronomers have had five years to brace for the impact of SpaceX's Star internet-satellite megaconstellation, but the first few batches of the spacecraft still managed to catch the community off guard.

Why SpaceX's Star Satellites Caught Astronomers Off Guard : Read more
"Astronomers" plural as in everyone? Or just a few who applaud Musk's narcissistic experiment in grandiosity? Nobody I know anticipated such numerous reflective objects making a visual trash dump of the atmosphere. And humanity the world over deserves a voice in this. If you are going to try and say it is OK for Musk and friends to stick a thumb into everyone's eyeballs, to pollute the night sky with reflective objects, then don't be surprised if you get an angry response. What's next, some kind of holographic advertisements flashed on the upper atmosphere? Maybe on the moon as well? Technology often outpaces human capacities to even know what the ramifications are. And too many "tycoons" have no concern for such things, only chasing the almighty dollar. This is the equivalent of painting advertisements for whiskey or cigarettes on the sides of elephants and rinos in the big game parks.
 
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Jan 11, 2020
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Who can claim ownership of space.Considering all countries in the world have borders to respect? USA cannot pollute the space with thousand of objects clearly visible from the Earth. Lately I have been observing that India and China have sent crafts to the moon.Where is the syncronisation of all activities going on now in space ? We need an universal understanding of what is going on at this moment to avoid space pollution . It is virtually impossible to remove the excisting 2000 space objects circling over our head today.Then what about an additional 100k objects in the near future?
Elon Musk is seemingly a nice guy who saves the world from pollution with Teslas in great numbers.Good. He is also innovative on a number of areas,but why doesnt he at all see the potential vast pollution of our sky???
 
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Jan 11, 2020
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The more I read about this the more pissed off I'm getting. Firstly what gives the US the sole right to decide what goes up into space and flies over the heads of every person on the planet.
Ignorant assertion. Since when has the US had the sole right to decide what goes up into space? This would be news To Russia, China, Japan, France, India, UK etc...
 
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Jan 11, 2020
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As if light pollution isn't bad enough and degrading our night skies, now amateur and professional astronomers alike will need to contend with the possibility of numerous satellite trails streaking across our images. We are losing the beauty of our night skies at an alarming rate. It's everyone's job to conserve and preserve this natural resource.
 
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Reactions: Truthseeker007
Jan 11, 2020
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This is space junk. Reminds me of all the plastic water bottles everyone uses and throws away. This project should have been denied. It is ridiculous that one man/company is allowed to muck up our skies. Now we should build a satellite that can destroy these pieces of space trash.
If space X lost control of all its satellites they would all deorbit in about 5 years due to friction rom the deaths upper atmosphere. These satellites need to occasionally fire thrusters to maintain orbit. If they don't they will gradually spiral in and burn up.
This simulation is very missleading
Here's an interesting simulation of what 12,000 starlinks might look like:
View: https://youtu.be/LGBuk2BTvJE
You can only see the satellites when sunlight reflects off of them. In the middle of the night you will not see anything because the satellites will be earths shadow. You willing be able to see them close to sunrise or sunset. Also you will not see any during the day because of the bright sun
 
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Jan 11, 2020
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The problem I have is the privatisation of space - I realise and acknowledge the concept of privatisation driving down costs - that is fine.

The problem I have on a privately owned project of this scale is of sheer number of satellites one company can put up.

What would space sky look like if private Chinese companies want to do the same type of thing on the same scale? What about adding a private Indian company ? Then perhaps followed by companies from England, Pakistan, Saudi, Europe, Russia, South Korea and yes even North Korea and Iran?

Then we can add the possibility of further companies from said countries wishing to compete with other companies from the same country - just for the sake of increased competition.

We tend to talk about space junk now - but this mainly has been put up by two competing nations - The problem is that more nations are becoming competent players in the space game, and are showing a desire to do their own thing.

This whole thing eventually must be controlled by an internationally recognised entity with universally accepted authority over space itself (especially orbit positions), manufacturing standards (possibly via a licencing scheme), launch windows, retrieval of "dead" satellites, environmental standards and radio frequencies to name a few - and this needs to be done before we launch willy nilly thousands of satellites into space as a private virtually unregulated commercial enterprise (It may be regulated in the US - but the US is only about 5% of the worlds population) In a democracy 5% does not represent a majority
 
Jan 4, 2020
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This is the first description that makes sense of the astronomy community reaction - they have had years to try to change laws (and likely they have tried) and plan for the launch train et cetera. That said, it is lack of jurisdiction that allow US with its history of unregulated new areas (c.f. "wild west") to pollute the global light (and to some extent radio) sky. We are all complicit in this.

Specifically, I'm not sure astronomers would benefit from going after SpaceX legally (usually a problematic, slow affair anyway) because the current laws did not allow for a test period and yet they feel that SpaceX responsibilities are to consider no harm at all. Fixing the problem sooner than later would set a precedent, and the small bunch of early reflective satellites will deorbit within a few years. The astronomers can even pay or ask for charitable specific deorbiting as the system develops.

The gripping hand is that astronomers are getting cheaper launches, and access to a cheap communication system for their many mountain top observatories. Possibly they can also get to ride outward facing sensors on some of the upcoming global constellations, which would give new ways to make Earth size baseline astronomical observations.
 
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Jan 4, 2020
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This whole thing eventually must be controlled by an internationally recognised entity with universally accepted authority over space itself (especially orbit positions), manufacturing standards (possibly via a licencing scheme), launch windows, retrieval of "dead" satellites, environmental standards and radio frequencies to name a few - and this needs to be done before we launch willy nilly thousands of satellites into space as a private virtually unregulated commercial enterprise (It may be regulated in the US - but the US is only about 5% of the worlds population) In a democracy 5% does not represent a majority
Some immediate problems:
- US doesn't use multinational agreements much, it considers bilateral agreements better (but I don't think statistics agree).
- There is no global democratic body that has governmental rights; UN is constituted as a mediator organization [Wikipedia].
- There are a number of space treaties already, starting with the Outer Space Treaty 1967 that organize half the world but mainly in arms-control, which nations historically have hidden behind [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_Space_Treaty ]. US should "request consultation concerning the activity or experiment" for Starlink and other constellations according to the OST, and it should have joined the Moon Treaty 1976, to take two examples - neither of which happened. My guess is that US regulatory bodies consult international bodies when setting up the radio bands, and that is as far as their consultation goes. If US chooses to not abide by the treaty, that is its problems of morale and respectability (but nobody can force US to act democratic).
 

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