Over a month ago, SpaceX launched its first batch of 60 Internet Beaming satellites for the company's massive Starlink initiative, and all but three seem to be functioning as intended. Initially, SpaceX was able to communicate with all 60 spacecraft after launch, but eventually lost communication with three outliers. The non-communicative trio will orbit the Earth for a while, but eventually it will be dragged down by gravity onto our planet where it will burn in the atmosphere.
The rest of the 57 satellites worked as intended to the company. Forty-five of the satellites have raised their altitude with their on-board thrusters and reached their final orbit of 550 kilometers. Five of the satellites are still in the process of raising their orbits and another five will be subject to additional system reviews before lifting their orbits. The remaining two satellites were deliberately fired by SpaceX with their onboard engines to launch them into the planet's atmosphere. There was nothing wrong with this satellite ̵
This means that a total of five satellites will be directed into a fiery tomb. "Due to their design and low orbit, all five desorbing satellites will disintegrate as soon as they enter the Earth's atmosphere to support SpaceX's commitment to a clean space environment," said a SpaceX statement.
These 60 satellites, launched on May 23, were just the first of nearly 12,000 satellites SpaceX plans to launch. The company received permission from the Federal Communications Commission to launch a batch of 4,409 satellites, followed by another constellation of 7,518. The spaceships are to fly in a relatively low orbit above the planet and radiate the Internet coverage on the ground below them and thus provide services for all areas of the earth. The idea is to provide coverage for rural or remote areas where fiber optic routing is not an option and offer customers another Internet service option.
The company will soon be using its young Starlink constellation to stream and play video to high-bandwidth video games to see how much delay the service has. The company says, however, that it will make changes to future spacecraft as a result of this launch. "Although we are satisfied with the satellite's performance so far, SpaceX will continue to improve the satellite's operational capabilities to announce future iterations," said a SpaceX statement.
The fact that three of the SpaceX Starlink satellites have been stopped Communication may raise more concern among the space community. Some experts are already concerned about how the constellation will contribute to the space debris problem. According to the latest information from the European Space Agency, there are currently 2,000 satellites in orbit and the completed Starlink constellation will dramatically increase this number. Such a boost could increase the risk of satellite collisions in space and create more debris that could further threaten other spaceships. According to a study conducted by NASA, 99 percent of all satellites in these massive constellations must be taken out of orbit within five years in order to minimize the risk of collisions in space. And if a company can not communicate with a satellite, it can not steer the vehicle and get it out of orbit.
However, SpaceX Several design and system changes have been made to ensure that the company does not pollute the space environment. SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, said the Starlink spacecraft use US Air Force data on the positions of other satellites in space to avoid them and avoid collisions with nearby objects. And in April, the FCC approved SpaceX's call to bring its first series of Starlink satellites closer to Earth so they could be pulled down faster and dropped out of orbit.
Astronomy experts are concerned too. Light and radio astronomers have expressed concerns about how the stellar constellation could affect the observations of the universe. When the first 60 satellites were launched, the spacecraft in the sky turned out to be much brighter than expected, and scientists warned that the light reflected by these vehicles could mess up their long-exposure images of the sky. Radio astronomers also felt that the frequencies on which these satellites operate could intersect with the frequencies that scientists use to study distant objects in space.
SpaceX has reportedly collaborated with leading astronomy groups to minimize potential impact on space exploration. And leading astronomy groups have made statements that they have had 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 would continue to launch batches of 60 satellites simultaneously, with the goal of bringing between 1,000 and 2,000 spacecraft each year. According to Musk, it should take around 24 launches to reach worldwide Internet coverage.