The boss of orbital launch firm SpaceX has responded to growing complaints about the ‘brightness’ from the firm’s satellite broadband constellation.
CEO Elon Musk has said the company was “fixing” the brightness of his company’s satellites, which he blamed on the angle of the solar panels of each satellite.
Space X launched another 60 broadband satellites on Wednesday, as well as 60 more in mid March. The firm launched 60 broadband satellites in January this year, on top of the initial 60 “Starlink” satellites launched in May last year.
Over the past week, there have been growing complaints from stargazers that their view of the stars was being obscured by the brightness of the satellites.
Everyday Astronaut for example tweeted the following: “Is there a reason they’ve been brighter and more noticeable lately? I feel like tons of people are spotting them all of a sudden and they went fairly unnoticed before.”
Elon Musk replied to the tweet.
“Solar panel angle during orbit raise / park. We’re fixing it now,” he tweeted.
Essentially, changing the angle of the solar panel could make the satellites less visible from Earth.
SpaceX’s Starlink project aims to create a network of 12,000 satellites that beam broadband internet access back to Earth, firstly in North America. The long term goal however is to eventually place up to 42,000 satellites into orbit.
It should be noted that each satellite weighs a hefty 227kgs and contains a single solar array. Each satellite has its own electric propulsion system that expels electrically charged atoms of krypton in order to provide thrust.
The engine also maintains its correct position, and to bring the satellite down at the end of its service life.
This last point is important due to increasing concerns about space clutter in orbit.
The plan eventually is to expand the Starlink network to the rest of the world.
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