Will Elon Musk’s Starlink Satellites turn space into rubbish?

And another launch! This Sunday, Elon Musk’s Space X will send 60 Starlink satellites into space again. Departing from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 8:42 AM (French time). This will be the sixth launch of the mission aimed at creating a constellation of several thousand satellites in low Earth orbit to provide internet connectivity around the world.

The previous satellite shipment was sent on May 4.

These moons are sometimes noticed by residents, especially in France, where testimonies proliferate, as is the case with Jean-Michel, who lives in Designes east of Lyon: “It was 10:40 pm on Friday and we saw a light in the direction of the north. At first we thought it was. Plane, then we felt like we saw stars … but they were between 70 and 80 years old and correspond to a very short spacing between them. Wow! We saw the beginning and end of this episode that lasted about ten minutes when going online, we thought it was definitely the Elon Starlink satellites. Mask “.

Global Internet coverage

With this project, Elon Musk seeks to cover the most deprived areas of the Internet, as long as he has the appropriate equipment: a satellite antenna. The service may soon be available in France. It was also spotted on May 7 Interested in the trade, The service’s official website is now translated into French.

According to the US founder’s prediction at the beginning of the year, Starlink will be able to cover most of the world by the end of 2021. All of that in 2022. So far, more than 1,500 satellites have been sent. Ultimately, the space fleet should contain nearly 12,000 satellites around 2025. But it could also grow to over 40,000.

See also  The next Mac Pro could use Intel's Ice Lake Xeon W-3300

“We are throwing out space debris!”

But the proliferation of objects in space worries the specialists. “The number, mass, and area of ​​these objects are steadily increasing, and this increases the risks they pose to active satellites,” he explains. European Space Agency (ESA). The European Space Agency estimates that more than 900,000 pieces of debris larger than 1 cm are currently in orbit and more than 30,000 pieces greater than 10 cm. And the European Space Agency adds that “any impact of an operational satellite could cause damage and possibly end its mission.”

Sometimes sending satellites directly into space generates debris that would otherwise have been avoided. “Among the first batch of 60 satellites launched by Elon Musk, 6 were broken, and this represents 10% of the fleet: We are throwing space debris!” Last November.

Especially as projects proliferate. If Amazon boss Jeff Bezos hasn’t sent a single satellite yet, he intends to compete with Elon Musk with the constellation Kuiper for € 10 billion.

Several centuries back to Earth

To stop space turning into litter, it would reportedly take about 5 to 10 large debris per year The culture of France. The estimated cost of the wreck is between 10 and 20 million euros. Space objects can also return to Earth on their own. But it all depends on their height. At an altitude of 600 km above the surface of the earth, it will take many years for them to fall, at an altitude of 800 km, and it will take many decades and more than 1000 km, we have been talking for centuries. Starlink satellites are deployed at altitudes between 1,100 and 1,300 kilometers.

See also  Long missions | Food, a worrisome issue for the Canadian Space Agency

If the cost of removing debris is large in absolute terms, it is much lower compared to the cost of any collisions. “The destruction of satellites or the final loss of certain orbits (…) will have a direct financial impact of more than 8 billion euros, and will seriously affect the global economy,” ESA defines. Knowing that global satellite operators will currently spend € 14 million annually on debris avoidance maneuvers.

A number that will increase with the number of debris in space … resulting, among other things, from collisions that are likely to multiply.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *