NASA Raises Concerns About SpaceX’s Plan To Deploy 30,000 Satellites

by Josh Lanier

SpaceX’s plan to create a constellation of 30,000 satellites to create its worldwide Starlink internet service has NASA officials worried. Experts say that many low-orbit objects could cause problems for future manned space missions and could obstruct astronomers’ views of the cosmos.

The Elon Musk-led Space X is in the process of launching 12,000 satellites, Reuters reported, with authorization for 30,000. If successful, they will link up and provide internet service for the entire planet called Starlink. This could provide internet to millions of people who live in rural areas who have had little-to-no access before. Starlink also promises improvements to GPS and communication in areas where it’s nearly impossible now.

But NASA worries the extra SpaceX satellites could cause major problems for its satellites and scientific research equipment. The agency wrote the Federal Communications Commission to complain about possible collisions.

“NASA has concerns with the potential for a significant increase in the frequency of conjunction events and possible impacts to NASA’s science and human spaceflight missions,” NASA wrote to the FCC.

SpaceX isn’t the only company wanting to fill the night sky with man-made moons. Amazon is also spending $10 billion on more than 3,000 satellites to create Project Kuiper. Though, Amazon is still in the testing phase with its rockets. While SpaceX has 1469 active Starlink satellites, and 272 moving into orbit, Elon Musk tweeted last month.

Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell said more study is needed to know what impact the satellites could have on astronomers.

“We’ve been concerned with having these large numbers of satellites that interfere with astronomical observations,” he said, according to Reuters. “… I think we need a little more experience with the several thousand operating satellites before we can ramp up to the tens of thousands.”

Part of Space X Rocket on Collision Course with Moon

Part of a Space X Falcon 9 rocket that launched in February 2015 is on track to slam into the moon. The second stage of the rocket that blasted the NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite into orbit has been tumbling through space ever since.

The piece of the rocket is trapped between the pull of the Earth and the moon, sending it on a “chaotic” course, Arstechnica said. Now, experts believe the rocket will slam into the dark side of the moon on March 4. Though, an exact date is hard to pin down.

Bill Gray, Project Pluto blog which tracks near-Earth objects, said it’s difficult to predict the sunlight’s “pushing effect” on the object.

Experts say the four-ton rocket will slam into the moon and leave a 62-foot-wide crater. It will also have no effect on the moon’s orbit. And don’t worry, the collision doesn’t pose a threat to anyone on Earth.