SpaceX CEO Elon Musk dreams of having 42,000 Startlink satellites in low-Earth orbit – but others think the idea is a nightmare.
Arianespace CEO, Stéphane Israel, commented on the project during an interview saying the California company is trying to ‘colonize’ low-Earth orbit and is monopolizing the sector.
He warned that having one person own this area could result in a ‘Wild West’ rather than a sustainable space and calls for regulations of low orbits.
Arianespace, based in France, is the world’s first commercial satellite company that has been operating since 1980.
And its CEO has ‘denounced the all-out offensive of American Elon Musk’ ranging from satellites to the launcher, as reported by Le Monde.
During the interview, Israel noted two major issues with the StarLink project.
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Arianespace CEO, Stéphane Israel, commented on the project during an interview with France Inter saying the California company is trying to ‘colonize’ low-Earth orbit and is monopolizing the sector (pictured is a computer simulation of the project)
The first being that it monopolizes low-Earth orbit, as SpaceX would build, own and operate every single satellite.
‘When he sells to the US state, he sells twice as much as when he sells to the market, and his project today is no longer simply a launcher, its project is to be the builder, the launcher and the operator of 40,000 satellites and therefore it is a project of monopolization of the sector.
‘To us, the Europeans, it is indeed the way we will react to stay in the race to stay in the race.’
The other problem that arises, according to Israel, is blanketing the entire area is a kind of colonization, as it can only accommodate so many satellites.
Arianespace CEO, Stéphane Israel (left), commented on the project during an interview saying the California company, owned by Elon Musk (right) is trying to ‘colonize’ low-Earth orbit and is monopolizing the sector
‘We say no to a ‘Wild West’ space,’ he noted.
‘We support constellation projects and believe that it is a major topic for Europe, but in the context of a sustainable space. Regulation of low orbits is urgent.’
Not only are company executives unhappy with SpaceX’s plan, astronomers are also frustrated with the firm.
Many scientists warn that the artificial constellation could increasingly spoil views of the night sky and hinder astronomy, experts say.
Elon Musk’s Starlink project recently placed 60 satellites in low-Earth orbit as they look to beam high-speed internet down to the planet’s surface.
According to astronomers at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, nearly 20 satellites operated as part of SpaceX’s Starlink program recently streamed across the sky, disrupting the experts’ exposure and obscuring the final images.
‘Wow!! I am in shock!! The huge amount of Starlink satellites crossed our skies tonight a [Cerro Tololo],’ tweeted one of the observatory’s astronomers, Clarae Martínez-Vázquez.
‘Our DECam exposure was heavily affected by 19 of them! The train of Starlink satellites lasted for over 5 minutes!! Rather depressing… This is not cool!’
Not only are company executives unhappy with SpaceX’s plan, astronomers are also frustrated with the firm. An image from one astronomer, Cliff Johnson, shows how SpaceX’s satellites streaked across the night sky and obscured their view of distant galaxies
Researchers were in the middle of studying Megallanic Clouds as part of ongoing research into dwarf galaxies around the Milky Way which requires long exposures of the night sky.
The satellites, which can be seen in the form of long white streaks across the images tweeted by Martínez-Vázquez, are a part of SpaceX, and its CEO Elon Musk’s, plan to use thousands of tiny satellites to provide high speed, low-latency internet.
While there are currently only several dozen in orbit, astronomers have cautioned that SpaceX’s plan could greatly hinder scientific research going forward.
The issues may only compound as both Amazon and a UK-based company, One Web, are currently pursuing similar ventures.
In this case, researchers say the train of satellites affected a significant portion of their images with 1 in every 40 exposures tainted by the streaks, some of which had as much as 15 percent of the image distorted, according to Gizmodo.
SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to deliver 60 Starlink satellites into orbit this month
While researchers say they only had to wait five minutes for the satellites to pass by, an influx of new satellites could potentially lead to longer wait times and have a greater effect on their ability to capture the night sky.
SpaceX says it plans to have as many as 1,500 satellites in orbit by the end of 2020 and as many as 42,000 in total.
‘Losing five minutes isn’t that bad,’ Cliff Johnson, one of the two astronomers at Cerro Telolo told Forbes.
‘But if we’re going to go into a future where you end up losing 30 to 60 minutes, that would be a significant chunk of our observing time through the night…Every minute is valuable.’
WHAT IS STARLINK AND WHAT ARE ITS GOALS?
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has launched the first sixty of its ‘Starlink’ space internet satellites.
They are the first in a constellation of thousands of satellites, designed to provide low-cost broadband internet service from low Earth orbit.
The constellation, informally known as Starlink, and under development at SpaceX’s facilities in Redmond, Washington.
Its goal is to beam superfast internet into your home from space.
While satellite internet has been around for a while, it has suffered from high latency and unreliable connections.
Starlink is different. SpaceX says putting a ‘constellation’ of satellites in low earth orbit would provide high-speed, cable-like internet all over the world.
The billionaire’s company wants to create the global system to help it generate more cash.
Musk has previously said the venture could give three billion people who currently do not have access to the internet a cheap way of getting online.
It could also help fund a future city on Mars.
Helping humanity reach the red planet is one of Musk’s long-stated aims and was what inspired him to start SpaceX.
The company recently filed plans with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch 4,425 satellites into orbit above the Earth – three times as many that are currently in operation.
‘Once fully deployed, the SpaceX system will pass over virtually all parts of the Earth’s surface and therefore, in principle, have the ability to provide ubiquitous global service,’ the firm said.
‘Every point on the Earth’s surface will see, at all times, a SpaceX satellite.’
The network will provide internet access to the US and the rest of the world, it added.
It is expected to take more than five years and $9.8 billion (£7.1bn) of investment, although satellite internet has proved an expensive market in the past and analysts expect the final bill will be higher.
Musk compared the project to ‘rebuilding the internet in space’, as it would reduce reliance on the existing network of undersea fibre-optic cables which criss-cross the planet.
In the US, the FCC welcomed the scheme as a way to provide internet connections to more people.