SpaceX founder Elon Musk has denied claims that the company’s eventual 12,000-strong fleet of satellites could ruin the night sky for astronomers.
Astronomers have expressed concern about the satellite project despite Mr Musk’s claims that reflections of sunlight from the satellites would not interfere with their work.
The Starlink satellites are intended to be used to provide broadband-speed internet access across the whole of the planet and generate cash for Mr Musk’s other ambitions in space.
However, onlookers are expressing concern about the impact the satellites would have on their work.
A video captured by Dutch astronomers Dr Marco Langbroek shows the satellites in orbit, alongside Dr Langbroek’s claim that – contrary to Mr Musk’s assertions – during the summertime the satellites would be visible well south of the arctic circle.
Speaking to The Guardian, astrophysicist Nestor Espinoza said: “It’s basically a private company staining our sky for everyone. It’s interesting that there’s no consensus about it. No one asked us.”
Explaining what he plans to do with the revenue, Mr Musk said: “We think this is a key stepping stone on the way towards establishing a self-sustaining city on Mars and a base on the moon.”
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Launching the first batch of satellites last Friday, Mr Musk said he believed the constellation could eventually provide constant internet coverage for most of the world.
But initially Starlink is only authorised to use the radio spectrum to communicate with consumers in the US, and the company faces stiff competition elsewhere.
There are a number of satellite constellation projects in development, although concerns have been raised both about the space for these constellations orbiting around the Earth and their cost efficiency.
Other constellation projects are being developed by companies such as Amazon, OneWeb, Kepler, Telesat, and Leosat.
OneWeb launched satellites in February, while LeoSat Enterprises and Canada’s Telesat are also intending to create data networks.
Each network will use tiny satellites positioned closer to Earth than more traditional communications satellites.
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