Starlink: Why is Elon Musk launching thousands of satellites?
Billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX has launched thousands of satellites.
These satellites come within the framework of the Starlink project, which aims to provide high-speed Internet services from space, reaching remote areas on Earth.
What is starlink?
The project aims to provide Internet services via a huge network of satellites.
It targets people who live in remote areas who do not have access to high speed internet.
"There are people in the UK who fall into this category, but the majority of them are in places like Africa," says Lucinda King, director of space projects at the University of Portsmouth.
The Starlink satellites were placed in low Earth orbit to make communication between the satellites and the Earth as quickly as possible.
However, a large number of satellites are needed to provide complete coverage of the world.
It is believed that the Starlink project has involved the deployment of about 3,000 of them into space since 2018.
How much does Starlink cost and who will use it?
Compared to traditional internet providers, Starlink is not cheap, costing customers $99 per month. The dish and router needed to connect to the satellite also cost $549.
However, 96 percent of households in the UK already have access to high-speed internet, as do 90 percent of households in the European Union and the United States.
“Most of the developed world is already well connected,” says Professor Saeed Mossher, director of the Institute for Space Policy and Law at University College London. "They depend on a small share of the market for revenue," he adds.
The company says it has 400,000 subscribers in the 36 countries it currently covers - mostly in North America, Europe and Australia.
Next year, Starlink plans to expand its coverage further across Africa and South America, and into Asia.
How does Starlink help in Ukraine?
As they advanced into Ukraine, Russian forces shut down Ukrainian internet services and tried to block social media sites.
And Elon Musk made Starlink available in Ukraine right after the invasion. About 15,000 Starlink dishes and routers have been shipped to the country.
It was also used on the battlefield.
"Ukrainian forces use it to communicate - for example, between headquarters and forces in the field," says Marina Myron, a defense studies researcher at King's College London.
"Its signals cannot be jammed as normal radio signals can, and it only takes 15 minutes to set up the group," she added.
Is Starlink creating chaos in space?
In addition to Starlink, competitors such as OneWeb and Visat, which also operate satellite internet services, put thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit.
This will lead to problems, says Saeed, a consultant. It "makes space less safe in terms of collisions," he adds.
"Satellites can collide with other vehicles and create fragments of debris, which in turn can cause much more damage when flying at high speeds."
There have recently been a number of impending errors involving the Starlink satellites, including close ones with the Chinese space station.
"If there is a lot of fragmentation, it could make LEO unusable in the future," says Dr. King from the University of Portsmouth.
We may not be able to get out of low Earth orbit and into higher orbits, where our navigation and communication satellites are located."
Starlink satellites also create problems for astronomers.
At sunrise and sunset, it can be seen with the naked eye because the sun's rays are reflected on it.
This can cause streaks to appear on telescope images, obscuring the view of stars and planets.
"The astronomers saw the problems early on. They were the first to complain," says Professor Said Consultant.