Published On: Wed, Jun 3rd, 2020

SpaceX flyover: Can you see Starlink satellites in the UK? | Science | News


But any hopeful observers will be disappointed to know that the new satellites won’t be visible in the UK. Instead, the Find Starlink website has a list of times the whole constellation can be seen from the comfort of your own home, including tonight at 12.30am and 4.04am. The new launches take the total number of Starlink’s in orbit to 482.

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, has said that there needs to be at least 400 satellites in orbit to start introducing minimal internet coverage.

To get to moderate coverage, Elon said there needs to be 800.

The firm aims to have more than 1,000 satellites in orbit by the end of the year and has also been approved by the FCC to launch over 12,000 in total.

Collectively they will form a constellation of thousands of satellites, designed to provide low-cost broadband internet service from low-Earth orbit. 

MORE: SpaceX launch LIVE: Watch HERE as SpaceX launches Starlink satellites

Despite the excitement over the new technology, scientists and stargazers have voiced frustrations that the devices are hindering their ability to see the night sky.

The orbiting satellites can also interfere with the workings of ground-based radio telescopes that experts use to see distant phenomena.

Imperial College London astrophysicist Dave Clements previously told the BBC that future “mega-constellations” of satellites could obscure images for astronomers.

He said: “The night sky is a commons – and what we have here is a tragedy of the commons.”

Musk has tried to address these concerns with newer models, and has previously said some of the new satellites will feature special ‘visors’ that dim the device’s brightness.

Called VisorSat, the new addition is said to keep the antennae on the satellites in the shade and prevents sunlight from reflecting off them by forming a barrier over the devices, making them less visible from the ground.

Musk said of the tech in April: “We have a radio-transparent foam that will deploy nearly upon the satellite being released, and it blocks the sun from reaching the antennas.”

Musk said the brightness of the existing constellation is due to the angle of the solar panels as the satellites rise to orbit altitude, which results in more sunlight than usual being reflected, making the satellites look similar to stars.

Musk is also adjusting the angle of the solar panels on the 422 satellites already in orbit.

SpaceX will stream tonight’s satellite launch live on its YouTube channel.  

The launch of the next 60 satellites tonight was delayed due to Saturday’s historic launch of two NASA astronauts onboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, marking the first private company space mission.

It was also previously delayed from its original launch in May due to a tropical depression forming on the southeast coast of the US.



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