Here are six recent photos from Paradise – A buck looking in our window yesterday, coyotes from the game-cam at Nance Pond, and a composite shot from last night showing several Starlink (Space-X) satellites in orbit. It is always magic to see the larger animals around here, and celestial objects.
About seventy years ago, the science-fiction writer and scientist Arthur C. Clarke theorized that if a satellite were launched into orbit at an altitude of 22,300 miles, its position would be geostationary, orbiting synchronously with the earth – continuously hovering above the same patch of geography, and could be used reliably as a transmission station for any data transfer within its footprint. This is our current reality for most global transmission, with undersea cables tying the multiple satellite footprints together.
An alternative is to send thousands of smaller satellites into non-geosynchronous low earth orbit (LEO), about 300 miles up, to orbit faster than the earth and serve as cell towers in space, facilitating communications for whatever area of the earth they are passing over.
Although this allows a corporate monopoly on such a transmission network, and removes the latency encountered with satellites in geostationary orbit, it requires a HUGE number of satellites. Sixty of them have been launched so far under the Starlink plan, with 1,600 more planned as a first phase. The full Space-X build out is for 12,000 satellites, with 30,000 more approved after that. This is just one corporation’s effort, with others ready to go.
Although the small size of these 500 lb. satellites allows multiples to be launched at a time, this requires far more rocket launches, interferes with observations of deep space due to the large number of reflective objects transiting the night sky, and due to the far shorter lifetimes of LEO sats, this results in a near constant “rain” of space debris back into our atmosphere.
I personally hope we can find an alternative to these mega-fleets of mini-satellites.
Please enjoy these photos! 🙂