How Starlink’s 42000 Satellites will transform the world:
There are around 3,300 active satellites in orbit right now. Under the right circumstances, you can see them with the naked eye. But imagine double that number of satellites or even triple. Is the view a little crowded?
Can you still make out the constellations and planets? Now imagine a total of 45,000 satellites in the night sky. That’s the goal of Elon Musk’s high-speed satellite internet venture Starlink. While some argue the future satellite mega constellation could pose a threat to astronomers. The project could also benefit rural areas by bringing broadband to billions. Here are the ways Starlink satellites will transform the world.
Internet Everywhere -How Starlink will change the Internet:
How Starlink’s 42000 Satellites will transform the world: Imagine having access to the internet anywhere well, almost anywhere. According to the World Economic Forum, almost half the world’s population doesn’t have access to the internet. Starlink’s network of satellites would provide internet access to areas of the world where installing ground infrastructure. Just isn’t feasible due to geographic economic or political boundaries. This could even mean fast, reliable internet for ships airplanes, and the arctic circle.
As long as a customer can afford the cost of a Starlink satellite dish and router connectivity shouldn’t be a challenge. The company’s beta program costs $99 per month in addition to $500 for the hardware. It’s only available in the Northwest U.S parts of Canada, the UK, and select other areas. But in the future, this will expand and cost will likely decrease.
Starlink Internet Speed:
Moreover compared to satellites used today for connectivity. Starlink’s will be positioned at a lower orbit allowing for a lower latency resulting in more reliable internet of course this still won’t compare to the speeds and reliability of fiber optic or cable broadband connections. But for those with poor or no internet especially in underdeveloped areas of the world, this could be life-changing.
Starlink Light Pollution and Interference:
One negative way Starlink could impact our planet is through light pollution. while Starlink satellites don’t give off light themselves they do reflect light. Because they’re lower in orbit about 60 times lower than other internet satellites. They can fill the night sky with reflections especially in such high numbers which could impact conditions for all astronomers.
In fact, the International Astronomical Union released a statement warning of unforeseen consequences for ground-based astronomy. Experts note that this could even hamper our ability to detect hazardous asteroids in response Starlink has been testing new designs that result in less reflection such as the “Dark Sat” satellite with a non-reflective coating and the “Visorstat” satellite equipped with a special sunshade visor. of course, these new designs won’t help radio astronomers who are also concerned as well.
The team behind the square kilometer array in South Africa for example released an analysis of Starlink’s potential impact on their 197 radio astronomy dishes. The mega constellation would interfere with one of the radio channels the array uses which would hamper searches for organic molecules in space. as well as water molecules used as a key marker for cosmology. Again the Starlink team promises to address the concern but radio astronomers are seeking formal regulations.
Space Debris and Orbital Traffic :
If they fail or malfunction in any way Starlink satellites could contribute to the growing issue of space debris. According to the ESA, there are currently about 128 million objects from 0.03 inches to 0.39 inches orbiting our planet. The total is more than 9400 tons. so far only about three percent of the Starlink satellites have failed however if three percent of the 42000 fail that would mean 1260 dead 550 pound satellites adding to the space junk issue.
The company notes that the satellites are all designed to deorbit naturally or burn up in the earth’s atmosphere. In which case they won’t contribute to the growing space debris. However, that process can take up to five years. Even if the satellites don’t fail they still pose a risk as orbital traffic and this is already happening with Starlink’s fleet.
In 2019 the ESA reported that it had to perform evasive maneuvers to avoid a Starlink satellite. This traffic will likely only get worse as the number of satellites increases posing issues for rockets including those carrying Starlink satellites to orbit.
Space junk and light pollution aside this solution to internet accessibility could change the way we connect with each other around the world. Starlink isn’t alone in their endeavor either. OneWeb has a goal of launching 40000 satellites and Amazon aims to launch more than 3200. Whoever ends up connecting the world will have many challenges to overcome but these off-world solutions are already shaping our planet.