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Elon Musk launches FIFTY Starlink satellite – as critics warn of ‘dangerous space junk’

SPACEX has launched another series of Starlink satellites amid concerns that the company is cluttering Earth’s orbit with space junk.

A Falcon 9 rocket lifted 48 satellites into a clear blue sky over Florida on Wednesday after taking off from Kennedy Space Center.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket takes off from Florida on March 9

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket takes off from Florida on March 9Credit: Alamy

SpaceX confirms deployment in low Earth orbit at 3:06pm UK time (10:06am EST) in a tweet on Wednesday.

The rocket’s first stage then returned to Earth for a smooth encounter aboard a SpaceX drone in the Atlantic Ocean.

It marks the 10th Falcon 9 launch in 2022 and brings the total number of Starlink satellites in orbit to more than 2,000.

“It’s time to let the American broom fly and hear the sounds of freedom,” SpaceX’s launch director said shortly before launch.

The comments were a clear response to the head of Russia’s space agency Dmitry Rogozin, who last week halted sales of rocket engines to US launchpad suppliers amid economic sanctions aimed at the United States. into the country because of the invasion of Ukraine.

In announcing the blacklist, Rogozin mocked “let them fly on something else, their broom.”

Starlink is a satellite project launched by billionaire Tesla boss Elon Musk in 2015.

He aims to put 12,000 satellites in orbit over the next decade, which could grow to 42,000 in the future.

According to SpaceX, that giant constellation will eventually be able to spread internet to every corner of the planet.

The company’s high-speed satellite internet is already available in a number of countries, including parts of the United States and the United Kingdom.

It sent recently a large shipment of emergency internet satellite dishes to Ukraine to help communications sabotaged by Russia.

Wednesday’s Starlink mission, known as Starlink 4-10, was the 41st flight of the ambitious project.

“The other 48 Starlinks just reached orbit,” Musk tweeted on after a successful launch.

Amid promises that Starlink will provide cheap, reliable WiFi globally, concerns about the impact of megaconstellations on future rocket launches and astronomical observations are growing.

Last month, experts voiced alarm about the possibility of the Starlink network expanding rapidly to messy low-Earth orbit.

In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Nasa raised concerns that Starlink could pose a risk to its spacecraft.

“Nasa is concerned about the potential for a significant increase in the frequency of associated events and their possible impacts on science and NASA’s spaceflight missions,” the agency wrote on Wednesday.

Nasa notes that there are currently a total of 25,000 tracked objects in orbit – and about 6,100 objects below 600 km.

SpaceX’s Gen2 expansion “will double the number of objects tracked in orbit and increase the number of objects below 600 km by a factor of five,” it added.

Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist, Jonathan McDowell, outlined the influence of the Starlink satellite on scientists’ observations.

“We are concerned about having a large number of satellites obstructing astronomical observations,” said McDowell, a member of the American Astronomical Council that examines the effects of satellites on astronomy. .

“I think we need a little more experience with a few thousand satellites in operation before we can scale that up to the tens of thousands.”

Amazon, which has pledged to spend at least $10 billion to build 3,236 internet-connected satellites through its Project Kuiper program, has privately raised concerns with the FCC about SpaceX’s plans.

Amazon said according to the SpaceXs app “at least hundreds and potentially more than ten thousand SpaceX satellites can operate at the same altitude as the Kuiper System.”

It warned that “the effects of this orbital overlap would significantly increase the risks and other burdens to the Kuiper System” and asked the FCC to impose “reasonable conditions.”

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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8480268/elon-musk-starlink-satellites-critics-space-junk/ Elon Musk launches FIFTY Starlink satellite – as critics warn of ‘dangerous space junk’

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