Elon Musk steals even more of the night sky as he launches another batch of his planned 40,000 satellites.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is accused of interfering with the work of astronomers and stargazers, but we’re powerless to stop him sending more space junk into orbit to make him more money – oops, sorry – for the good of humanity.
After years of suffering humiliating wedgies, having their heads flushed in toilets and being mocked for unseemly diligence to their studies, when the nerds exact their revenge, it seems the whole of humanity must pay the toll.
And so, this week we have witnessed the extraordinary spectacle of the launch procession of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites, shooting upwards one after the other… after the other… after the other, ad infinitum, as he sends his latest load of money-spinners into the heavens from where, in this phase, they will provide unobstructed broadband services to previously unreachable places like, um, the northern USA and Canada.
I can’t be alone in expressing surprise that these regions don’t already have broadband, but hey-ho, I’m no aeronautical scientist and SpaceX assure me that its global coverage should be in situ next year.
So in the pursuit of better internet, we all have to put up with having the purity of the night skies now ruined forever. Alongside Musk’s proposal for up to 40,000 satellites ringing Earth, plans by those other nerd kings, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos with his 3,236-satellite Project Kuiper, and Virgin’s Richard Branson and his OneWeb partnership scheme for a few more thousand, are in the pipeline. Each of them is launching more space junk into orbit to build on their already considerable fortunes, with more reportedly in the planning stages for Apple, Boeing, Samsung and others.
And it seems there is nothing we can do about it because these things just keep on coming. The latest batch of 60 Starlink satellites are due to take off this afternoon from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and can be watched live.
Musk’s $10 billion Starlink constellation project has so far sent 358 krypton-propelled (yep, I thought it was just a fictional Superman thing, too) spacecraft into orbit 550km up in the sky with plans to send thousands more, some even higher, so that, some astronomers say, we will eventually be seeing more satellites than stars, thanks to the light pollution.
A miserable achievement, I’m sure inquisitive kids, amateur stargazers and astronomers would agree. “When you’re talking about 30,000 satellites, and many above the horizon at any one time, that’s what’s new about this,” one astronomer told Space.com. “It’s not going to be just the occasional interference, it’s going to be continual.”