It's been over a month since SpaceX launched its first series of 60 satellite-based satellites for the company's massive Starlink initiative, and anything but three of the satellites seem to work as desired. In the beginning, SpaceX was able to communicate with all 60 spacecraft after its launch, but eventually lost communication with three outliers. The uncomplicated trio will continue to pave the earth for some time, but will eventually be pulled down to our planet by gravity, where they will burn up in the atmosphere.
The rest of the 57 satellites have worked as intended, according to the company. Fifty-three of the satellites have raised their heights with their residents and have reached their final planned 342-mile (550-kilometer) orbits. Five of the satellites are still in the midst of raising their lanes, and another five undergo additional system checks before they increase their lanes. As for the remaining two satellites, SpaceX cautiously deposited its inhabitants with the goal of crashing into the planet's atmosphere. There was nothing wrong with these satellites ̵
This means that five total satellites are led into a burning tomb. "Because of their design and low orbital position, all five deorbent satellites will dissolve as they enter the Earth's atmosphere in support of SpaceX's commitment to a clean space environment," said SpaceX.
These 60 satellites, launched on May 23, were just the first of nearly 12,000 satellites that SpaceX plans to orbit the Earth. The company received permission from the Federal Communications Commission to launch a series of 4,409 satellites, followed by another 7.518 constellation. The spacecraft is supposed to fly in a relatively low path across the planet and radiate internet coverage to the ground below, providing service to all areas of the globe. The idea is to provide coverage to rural or remote areas, where fiber laying is not an option, as well as providing another Internet alternative to customers.
The company will soon start using its flame Starlink constellation to stream videos and play high bandwidth video games, to see how much storage it is in the service. But the company says that it will also implement changes on future spacecraft based on this launch. "While we're happy with the satellite's performance so far, SpaceX will continue to push the satellite's operational capabilities to inform future iterations," SpaceX said in a statement.
The fact that three of the SpaceX Starlink satellites stopped Communicating can give more concern to the world community. Some experts are already concerned about how the constellation will contribute to the space problem. Currently, there are 2000 operational satellites orbiting the Earth, according to the latest figures from the European Space Agency, and the completed Starlink constellation will drastically add that number. Such a lift can increase the risk of collisions of satellites in space, creating more debris that can further threaten other spacecraft. A survey by NASA claimed that 99 percent of all the satellites in these massive constellations have to be eliminated within five years to keep the risk of collisions in the room low. And if a company can't communicate with a satellite, it can't control the vehicle and take it out of orbit.
But SpaceX says it has implemented various design and system changes to ensure that the company does not pollute the room environment. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the Starlink spacecraft uses US Air Force data on the positions of other satellites in space, moving out of the way and avoiding collisions with nearby objects. And in April, FCC approved SpaceX's request to fly its first series of Starlink satellites closer to Earth, so they would be pulled down and fall out of orbit faster.
Astronomical experts are also concerned. Light and radio astronomers have raised concerns about how the Starlink constellation could affect observations of the universe. When the first 60 satellites were launched, the spacecraft turned out to be much brighter in the sky than expected, and scientists warned that the light reflected by these vehicles could destroy their far exposed images of the sky. In addition, radio astronomers were also suspicious that the frequencies on which these satellites operate could cross with the frequencies that scientists use to study distant objects in space.
SpaceX says it has worked with leading astronomy groups to find ways to reduce any potential impact on space research. And top astronomy groups have posted statements saying they have been in proactive conversations with the company.
Meanwhile, it is unclear when the next launch of Starlink satellites will happen. Musk said the company will continue to launch batches of 60 satellites at a time, with the goal of getting between 1000 and 2000 spaceships each year. It should take around 24 launches to reach global internet coverage, according to Musk.