SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company, launches a large number of rockets each month to expand its StarLink Internet network around the world. For this, satellites are launched into orbit, and space industry experts believe that in doing so, the Musk company increases the possibility of collisions between space objects. This will create more waste in space. SpaceX’s StarLink has launched around 1,300 satellite orbits and plans to send more than 40,000 satellites by 2027.
Dominance in space
Starlink has previously said that satellites can avoid collisions with any other space object through ionic drives, but if contact or operation of the satellites fails in orbit, they can pose a threat to space traffic. In LEO (lower earth orbit), Starlink dominates the population of satellite space objects. Astronomer Jonathan McDowall of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told Insider that LEO has 300 other satellites and 1,300 Starlink satellites.
1000 endangered satellites
If they collide, they will emit hypersonic shock waves and blow the satellites. Debris from this will form a layer on the earth. This can cause problems for other space users and astronomers. McDowall calculated in November that 2.5% of Starlink satellites could fail in orbit. This number is not large, but if seen on a large scale, more than 1000 satellites in total may be faulty.
Everyone’s responsibility for waste
At the same time, Center for Space Standards and Innovation Daniel Altrose says it’s advantageous for Starlink satellites to be in LEO because they can be deleted if they go wrong. He says no one can be held responsible for wasted space. Governments to commercial and civil companies have played a role in this regard. He says guidelines must be followed to reduce the risk of collision, improve understanding of the situation in space and share data between satellite companies.