Elon Musk’s huge satellite plans could crash planes, astronomers warn

EXPERTS have warned Elon Musk’s huge plan to send even more satellites into space could cause a devastating plane crash.

The richest man in the world wants to launch more than 40,000 SpaceX internet satellites into low earth orbit.

Astronomers can't make out anything in the sky with all those satellites


Astronomers can’t make out anything in the sky with all those satellitesCredit: Edinburgh Astronomical Society

Its Starlink service has permission to launch 12,000, but the company filed papers for another 30,000 in 2019.

SpaceX already has over 3,000 operational in the sky, which have been a crucial tool for Ukrainian forces fighting Russia.

But astronomers fear the low Earth orbit could be overrun with satellites from Musk, 51, and many others racing for a piece of space.

They say that crowded space increases the risk of collisions that would rain debris down on Earth.

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It should burn up as it spills through the atmosphere, but according to Andy Lawrence, Regius Professor of Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh, even the smallest chunk could bring down a plane.

“It’s going to happen eventually,” he told The Sun.

“There’s so much junk, something is going to hit a plane and 300 people will be killed if we’re not really, really careful.

“They say they have AI algorithms to avoid collisions and make old satellites burn up, so we have to trust them that it always works and doesn’t.

“If you have something that doesn’t completely burn up on the way down, stuff rains through the atmosphere.

“Things move very quickly in orbit, even small things are absolutely deadly.

“Something the size of a pedal hits a plane on the way down, the plane’s gone.”

Professor Lawrence – who published a book on the subject called Losing The Sky last year – said he and others are not calling for satellite launches like Musk’s to be halted entirely.

“Basically I’m saying, for God’s sake slow down, let’s do some proper studies, let’s figure out how to do this so we can all share heaven,” he explained.

“The FCC – Federal Communications Commission – in the US, if they authorize it, it’s very hard to stop it any other way.”

Astronomers have noticed a dramatic increase in their images being ruined by satellites.

The amateur group at the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh recently shared satellite strip photos.

Society President Mark Phillips told The Sun we could end up with a glimpse of an “artificial sky” if things continue like this.

“Before the Starlinks came up you would expect the occasional satellite to pass by, with the Starlinks now up it’s gotten a lot worse,” he said.

“On some projects that we work on, the pros rely on amateurs to provide the data because we can do this all the time.”

“Even with some of the mitigating factors they’re trying to make the satellites darker and less reflective… our amateur telescopes are incredibly sensitive.”

He implored Musk, “Please hold back, wait until we’ve all completed the studies, and let’s find the best way to do it together.”

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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/9576923/elon-musk-spacex-starlink-plane-crash-warning/ Elon Musk’s huge satellite plans could crash planes, astronomers warn

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