SpaceX already has 540 Starlink satellites in space. The first public beta tests are due to start in the summer. Users in Europe can also register.
It continues on Friday evening: SpaceX then wants to send another load of satellites into space. 57 Starlink– It will be satellites this time, 540 of them now orbit the earth.
The goal: Fast Internet at any point on our planet. Many celebrate this as a technical blessing, but also warn of possible dangers. The huge number of satellite constellations could lead to the so-called Kessler syndrome, a kind of chain reaction in which objects collide in space and thousands of pieces are torn apart, which in turn destroy other satellites.
Starlink: Internet also in rural areas
“Operators of such constellations declare that they ensure that only a small percentage of the satellites fail. But if you refer to thousands of satellites, we are inevitably heading for the Kessler effect, ”says Sabine Klinkner from the Institute of Space Systems at the University of Stuttgart to INGENIEUR.de. Individual satellites that fail and can no longer be disposed of are an “insanely great risk”.
On the other hand, discussions about lack of Internet access, especially in rural areas, could come to an end with solutions such as Starlink. „It is a milestone. It’s like the Internet itself, ”said astronaut Ulrich Walter in an interview with INGENIEUR.de. The Starlink Internet could be launched this year, at least as a test.
SpaceX plans to start beta tests this summer
In northern latitudes, there will be the first beta tests, as SpaceX announced. This probably means northern US states, after all, according to the rough timetable, the company wants to offer the Internet service first in the USA. According to SpaceX boss Elon Musk, this is already possible with 500 satellites. Worldwide coverage would then be conceivable with around 1,200 satellites. The idea is that the more satellites in orbit, the faster the internet connection. In the long run, SpaceX wants to send 10.00 to possibly 42,000 satellites into orbit.
It is questionable whether the Starlink Internet will also be available in Europe this year. Already in April, Elon Musk had already indicated via Twitter that beta access to the SpaceX internet project is also conceivable in Germany. About the website From Starlink, interested users can enter their email and receive updates on when the Starlink service is available in their home region.
Job search for engineers
A response from SpaceX literally says: “Thank you for your interest in Starlink! Starlink was developed to provide high-speed broadband internet in places where access is unreliable, expensive, or not available at all. Private beta testing is expected to begin later this summer, followed by public beta testing starting in northern latitudes. If you have given us your zip code, you will be notified by email when beta testing options are available in your area. ”
Starlink satellites were clearly visible
The satellite constellation could be observed very well in the night sky, especially in April. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket transports the satellites into orbit as clusters of up to 60. The satellites then appeared like lined up pearls in the night sky, especially shortly after launch. This pearl necklace structure then dissolves more and more over time. The satellites were best seen during the first hour or two after sunset, according to Esa. Because then the surface of the satellites will reflect the rest of the sunlight. Like other satellites or the International Space Station (ISS), the objects are also illuminated by the sun and then appear glowing in the sky.
#Starlink-Satellites … Recently this one #Time lapse– Recording by our moderator Constantin Walz near #Potsdam added. We can guess what will soon bloom in the night sky. In a few years, 12,000 of these satellites will orbit our earth. pic.twitter.com/auTaEBuTNt
– Planetarium Potsdam (@PlanetariumPots) April 23, 2020
However, critics noted that at some point more satellites than stars could be seen in the night sky and interfere with observations of the sky. Astrophotographers and observatories complained that the satellites appear as annoying lines on long exposures. Unfoldable screens on the satellites should now prevent sunlight from being reflected: The Starlink satellites would be made virtually invisible, SpaceX promises.