Early in 2020, SpaceX became the operator of the world’s largest active satellite constellation, with 180 satellites orbiting the planet. The milestone is a mere starting point for Starlink, SpaceX’s ambitious project to provide internet capabilities to every inch of the globe. To get that kind of connectivity, the company wants the option to launch up to 42,000 satellites over the next decade. That’s about 21 times the number of operational satellites currently in space — and the true impact of the company’s nascent mega-constellation is still very much a mystery.
In the history of the world, dumping a large amount of new stuff into a place usually comes with some consequences, and many within the space community have expressed concern about Starlink’s potential side effects. Perhaps the biggest outcry has come from astronomers who view Starlink as a huge threat to their work. Satellites already muck up images of the night sky, so having even more spacecraft zooming above Earth could significantly hinder their ability to view distant objects in the Universe.
Dumping a large amount of new stuff into a place usually comes with some consequences