In recent weeks, Elon Musk’s company has lost a good handful of satellites, one crossed the sky of Spain in flames and another 40 have been affected by a solar storm. These are significant losses, but not so much when compared to the 30,000 satellites that Starlink wants to put into orbit, a figure that worries both astronomers and NASA.
The US space agency has sent a 7-page report to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission in Spanish) detailing the risk that this huge constellation of satellites poses for space exploration. They ask this regulatory body that the deployment of all these satellites be carried out respecting “the safety of space flights and the long-term sustainability of the space environment.”
Among NASA’s concerns, its main fear is that this mass of devices orbiting the Earth will cause collisions with future space rockets. It would be somewhat ironic if Elon Musk’s satellite internet connection service caused an accident in one of the ships that his own company develops in collaboration with NASA.
For those who do not remember, Starlink is part of SpaceX, one of NASA’s main business partners with whom they have sent astronauts to the ISS (International Space Station). But both space companies are not understanding each other in other aspects.
CNBC has shown part of the report in which NASA’s concern about a collision can be read, as well as possible delays in mission launches or interference with space and ground telescopes. They assure that among the risks presented by the numerous Starlink satellites is the possibility that these, by reflecting sunlight, do not allow telescopes to observe the Earth’s climate, and may even prevent “detecting near-Earth asteroids”, something what the astronomer community has complained about on more than one occasion.
From PCMag magazine they clarify that the agency is not against Starlink’s satellite internet business, but it does ask both the FCC and SpaceX for more evidence to support that the second generation of Starlink satellites will not have a negative impact for all other space exploration activities.