Elon Musk’s SpaceX completed another launch in the early hours of the morning, sending more Starlink satellites into Earth’s orbit. The launch lifted off at 01.25 AM GMT (9.25 EDT on June 3) and was a resounding success. SpaceX said: “On Wednesday, June 3 at 9:25 p.m. EDT, SpaceX launched its eighth Starlink mission. Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
“Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported the Telstar 18 VANTAGE mission in September 2018, the Iridium-8 mission in January 2019, and two separate Starlink missions in May 2019 and in January 2020.
“Following stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the ‘Just Read the Instructions’ droneship, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.”
Starlink is SpaceX’s ambitious yet controversial plan to launch 12,000 satellites into Earth’s orbit, with the aim of supplying internet to every corner of the globe.
The first of the 12,000 satellites were launched in May 2019, and month by month Elon Musk’s firm has steadily been increasing its numbers in the skies.
The plans were met with criticism from astronomers who claimed satellite constellations were obscuring the view of the cosmos.
Despite conceding Mr Musk’s Starlink project came with “good intentions”, astronomers are concerned about how it will affect their understanding of the universe and what it contains.
Last year, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) said in a statement: “The scientific concerns are twofold.
“Firstly, the surfaces of these satellites are often made of highly reflective metal, and reflections from the Sun in the hours after sunset and before sunrise make them appear as slow-moving dots in the night sky.
“Although most of these reflections may be so faint that they are hard to pick out with the naked eye, they can be detrimental to the sensitive capabilities of large ground-based astronomical telescopes, including the extreme wide-angle survey telescopes currently under construction.
“Secondly, despite notable efforts to avoid interfering with radio astronomy frequencies, aggregate radio signals emitted from the satellite constellations can still threaten astronomical observations at radio wavelengths.
“Recent advances in radio astronomy, such as producing the first image of a black hole or understanding more about the formation of planetary systems, were only possible through concerted efforts in safeguarding the radio sky from interference.”
However, SpaceX has moved to combat the disruptions caused by its satellites, by adding equipment to block the sunlight.
SpaceX said of the current launch: “On this mission, SpaceX launched the first Starlink satellite with a deployable visor to block sunlight from hitting the brightest spots of the spacecraft.”
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