Is Elon Musk Taking Over the Night Sky?
It seems like it may not be long before the night sky is no longer a place to take in the soothing beauty of antiquity, blanketed in stars, planets, and vistas from a great beyond, forever out of our reach. Instead, tech-minded entrepreneurs, such as Elon Musk, are increasingly becoming key players in the darkness above, painting the night sky with a curious, brand-new set of satellites.
These satellites, often labeled as Starlink, are joining an ever-growing cluster of orbiting devices that have come to be known as the Internet of Things. Just as a traditional internet connection connects people to each other through cables that are strung across the ground, Elon Musk and other entrepreneurs are forming an extended connection between people in space by forming a network of satellites.
The goal of this network is to create a wireless internet connection that is strong enough, reliable enough, and fast enough around the world that anyone can access the web simply by logging into a local cell phone tower. And while the practical implications of such a breakthrough are intriguing, the side effect is that the night sky will start to be filled with even more dazzling light displays than we could have ever previously imagined.
Turning Data Streams into Light Streams
To some, this may sound like a nightmarish concept – potentially blotting out some of our oldest modes of connection with the night sky. But for those of us who are open to the idea, Starlink and its cadre of tech cousins can usher in a new era of technological wonder.
The principle behind Starlink is simple. Through a series of interconnected satellites, data can be transmitted and converted into light beaming from above. This means that, instead of traditional internet connections being limited to cables and cells, people can now communicate from one corner of the world to another instantaneously – and with a display of light to accompany it.
Of course, this all begs the question: what time can we expect to see the Elon Musk’s satellites illuminating the night sky?
How and When To See Elon Musk’s Satellites
Simply put, Starlink satellites will be visible in the night sky dependent on timing and geographic location. Generally speaking, the sky will appear darker in areas where the sky isn’t being cluttered with natural light pollution, thus making the satellites more visible.
In general, satellite positions often shift due to their orbital positioning and the timing of their launch, so the exact moment when a good view of the night sky will take place may vary from one day to the next.
However, for those interested in having their best shot of viewing the Starlink sights, the conditions will be generally the same. According to various space enthusiasts, Elon Musk’s satellites will be clearest between the 35th and 40th minute of each hour, when the satellites are at their brightest; Fridays and Saturdays nights are often ideal for optimal viewing experiences as well.
The Bigger Picture Impact of Elon Musk’s Satellites
Of course, the implications of Elon Musk’s sattelite creations are far greater than a grand night sky light show. In the spirit of innovation, Musk and other entrepreneurs are ushering in a new era of limitless communication and forecasting the world’s trend towards increased data transfer speed, efficiency, and scalability.
Starlink, first and foremost, is designed to deliver broadband internet affordably across the world while still maintaining a high speed and effective connection between countries. From connecting communities to facilitating small businesses quicker and more effective communications, the notion of Elon Musk’s Starlink as it pertains to the broader picture of communication is invaluable.
In effect, Musk’s satellites can help bridge the digital divide that so many have recently experienced in the wake of pandemics, economic recession, and other forms of unrest. With millions of people stuck inside and unable to access the internet due to the physical limitation of wiring, Starlink can provide a potent and immediate solution.
Are Elon Musk’s Satellites Still Accessible?
By far the biggest concern facing even the most optimistic of rocket scientists is how the Starlink system will weather the elements and remain operable for long periods of time.
Given the sheer number of satellites that will have to be launched into orbit, the cost of expected launch failures and damaged equipment can add up quickly. Fortunately, SpaceX, the aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services owned by Elon Musk, has already taken steps to improve the longevity of its satellites by designing a ‘re-entry system’ that allows the Starlink fleet to slowly re-enter the atmosphere and burn off excess fuel and solar radiation over time.
While it’s still difficult to speculate on the true roadmap for Elon Musk’s satellite dreams, one thing is certain — the industry’s evolution is far from over.
There are numerous potential downsides to Elon Musk’s satellite project as well. The digital divide could prove to be taken to extreme levels as communities without access to satellite technology could theoretically be left further and further behind — leading to an even bigger gap between those with the means to partake in modern digital communication and those without.
Also, many scientists and environmentalists are concerned that the excess fuel and other satellite components released into the atmosphere by the Starlink system could lead to serious air contamination that could linger for years — a real concern for regions already suffering from depleted air quality.
And there are also a myriad of issues that arise regarding the security of this large network of broadband-connected satellites. Whither the data being transferred? Who is responsible for its privacy? What if the network is infiltrated by malicious outside sources?
Opportunities for Those Involved
Despite the darker sides of Musk’s satellite project, there is also much room for growth and opportunity.
SpaceX, the manufacture of Starlink, is already said to be in talks with a multitude of countries and private companies interested in leasing out their satellites, providing an income stream that can further expand the operation and give multiple parties a stake in the game.
Furthermore, entrepreneurs, cities, and countries who are early to the satellite game can reap huge advantages related to the broadband speeds and communication access that this system rings in.
Though this type of communication system is mainly the brainchild of Musk, it may just be the basis for a new wave of innovation that is done in collaboration between the public and private sectors, potentially revolutionizing the tech sector as we know it and offering boundless opportunities for those involved.
Ultimately, Starlink satellites being visible in the night sky — for better or for worse — may yet be only a sign of what’s to come in terms of tech progress and space exploration.
Though much of the technology and the science behind this new system has been established, there is still much work to be done to ensure the safety, security and reliability of a satellite-based internet connection.
That being said, the amount of technological advances already made by Starlink stands as a testament to the potential of this initiative and the advancements to come. With new age engineers and tech entrepreneurs like Elon Musk paving the way, it looks like the night sky we once knew is poised to become something entirely new — a place of light, unity, and connection between worlds that are just waiting to be explored.