New SpaceX Satellites

New SpaceX Satellites

Starlink won't reach "significant operational capacity" until at least 800 satellites are placed in orbit, so the private company still has a way to go.

The initial 60 Starlink Satellites, each weighing 500 pounds (227 kg), were placed in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) at an altitude of 400 kilometres (250 miles). The intended orbit is much higher. Accordingly, each satellite is equipped with a Hall ion thruster, which will enable the units to adjust their positions in orbit, hold an intended altitude, and even de-orbit themselves when the time comes. SpaceX doesn't expect these satellites to last more than five years, after which time they'll dip back into Earth's atmosphere and disintegrate during re-entry; SpaceX intends to replace old satellites with newer models over the course of the project.

The good news about this initiative has been spoilt by the adverse impact the satellites are having on night-sky observing as detailed in this report from the Society for Popular Astronomy.

Members may also wish to see this video that has been made of the satellites.

It of course remains to be seen what the long-term impact will be .....