SpaceX to Become the Largest Satellite Operator With Nighttime Launch
SpaceX is gearing up to launch another cluster of satellites into space later Monday and if successful it will become the largest satellite operator in the world.
On Monday night from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Flordia, SpaceX will launch 60 more satellites, adding to the 120 it launched into space last year.
SpaceX plans 20 launches this year
According to reports, SpaceX plans to have as many as 20 launches during 2020 as it aims to realize its goal of providing internet access to the world. In order to achieve that it needs a ton of satellites in low-Earth orbit. It could begin offering Internet service later this year.
The launch is scheduled for 9:19 p.m. ET 6 January and was delayed from Friday because of weather conditions.
Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete—targeting Monday, January 6 at 9:19 p.m. EST for launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Pad 40 in Florida— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 4, 2020
Satellites are too bright
SpaceX's move to bring Internet to the world hasn't been without controversy. The most recent is the brightness of these satellites which are creating artificial stars in the sky. It has become a problem with astronomers who worry they interfere with data calculations and pollute the night sky. To try to combat that SpaceX will coat one of the satellites being launched later Monday with a non-reflective coating on the bottom to dim the brightness.
The satellites are difficult to see without a telescope but astronomers said that with instruments they are bright enough to get in the way.
SpaceX, others create space junk
SpaceX and other companies launching satellites into space have created another negative phenomenon: space debris.
As of November, about 8,950 satellites have been launched into orbit by more than 40 nations. Of them, only about 1,950 are operational while the rest have morphed into space junk. This is only expected to get worse creating a potentially dangerous environment for astronauts as the number of space missions increase in the coming years.