Elon Musk Says SpaceX Took 'Key Steps' To Reduce Starlink Satellites' Brightness

Elon Musk Says SpaceX Took 'Key Steps' To Reduce Starlink Satellites' Brightness

“SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites will soon sport an accessory to tamp down their surprising brightness,” reports Live Science:
That brightness worries many astronomers, who say that the huge Starlink constellation could seriously disrupt a variety of scientific observations. And Starlink will indeed be huge, if all goes according to SpaceX’s plan: The company has approval to launch 12,000 craft to low Earth orbit (LEO) and has applied for permission to loft 30,000 more. (For perspective, humanity has launched just 9,400 objects to orbit since the dawn of the space age in 1957).

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said that the company will find a way to make Starlink craft fade from scientists’ sight, predicting that the constellation will end up having no impact whatsoever on astronomical discoveries. SpaceX has been working with the astronomical community to help make this happen, researchers say, and the company has already tried out some mitigation measures. For example, one of the 60 Starlink satellites that launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket this past January sported an experimental coating to make it less reflective. Observations show that this “DarkSat” is considerably dimmer than its brighter Starlink cohorts, but probably not dim enough to quell most astronomers’ concerns about the megaconstellation.

But SpaceX is taking additional measures as well, which brings us to the new accessory. Musk tweeted the following on Wednesday (April 22), in response to a Twitter follower who wished SpaceX luck on a 60-satellite Starlink launch that day: “Thanks! We are taking some key steps to reduce satellite brightness btw. Should be much less noticeable during orbit raise by changing solar panel angle & all sats get sunshades starting with launch 9.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



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