SpaceX completed its fifth dedicated Starlink launch Feb. 17, successfully sending 60 satellites into low Earth orbit while missing what would have been the company’s 50th booster recovery.
Since the first Starlink satellites launched in May, astronomers have complained that those satellites, and potentially other systems to be launched in the next few years, could make it far more difficult for astronomers to conduct observations using ground-based telescopes.
SpaceX completed its second Starlink launch of the month Jan. 29, conforming to a target cadence the company set last year to launch two dedicated Starlink missions monthly throughout 2020.
SpaceX says it’s committed to working with the astronomy community to address the brightness of its Starlink satellites, but some astronomers remain concerned about the deleterious effect that system and other megaconstellations will have on their field.
The rapid growth in Starlink missions means the 48 launch target could be attained in 2020.
SpaceX launched 60 of its own Starlink broadband satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket Jan. 6, becoming the operator of the world’s largest commercial satellite constellation.
President and COO Gwynne Shotwell said the problem caught the company by surprise
SpaceX completed its second launch of 60 Starlink satellites Nov. 11, making its own system the largest commercial telecommunications satellite constellation in orbit.
The goal is to complete six to eight Starlink launches to get sufficient coverage to start offering the service to consumers in 2020.
Shotwell: “We’re talking to the Army about Starlink and Starship."
The FCC, on SpaceX’s behalf, submitted 20 filings to the ITU for 1,500 satellites apiece in various low Earth orbits, an ITU official confirmed Oct. 15 to SpaceNews.
Satellite operators want to participate in a newly proposed $20.4 billion rural broadband program, but say the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s scoring criteria for signal lag puts them at a disadvantage.
SpaceX is asking federal regulators to allow it to spread out Starlink satellites in more rings around the Earth.