Terms from Outer Space
Despite the fact that space does not make headline news, and certainly not on an everyday basis, the space race does not let up for even one moment. The more exposure one gets to it, the more one realizes the power and influence of the research efforts and the results of the development of various “space implements” on people’s everyday lives here on Earth.
And here we are, just a few days ago on February 25, 2022,as the war in Ukraine was gathering pace, SpaceX owner Elon Musk announced in a Twitter tweet, that the Internet service via the Starlink satellite network, had been turned on in Ukraine.This is just a small example of how the investments on development in space is being harnessed to provide important assistance - enabling the victim’s side in this uncalled-for war, to maintain communication.
So what exactly is Starlink - it’s a subsidiary of the American SpaceX aerospace company, which has built a project, which is the namesake of the company - Starlink - whose immediate vision is to provide fast, broadband independent satellite Internet access to every location on the globe, including the exceptionally remote regions. To achieve this, the Company is launching long strings of low-altitude minisatellites, which are going to orbit Earth just 550 km above us. The goal is going to be reached when the launch of an array of approximately 42,000 minisatellites will have been deployed.
Design work on the project began in 2014, development began in 2015. In February 2017 the prototype was unveiled and a year later trial launches of two satellite prototypes took place. Beginning at the end of 2018, SpaceX began deploying the satellites with approval from the United States government. Operational satellites were launched and deployed in May 2019 from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The SpaceX satellite development facility is located in Redmond, WA, where the project’s research and development teams, the production and orbit control teams do their thing.
In November of that year, the Starlink satellites began their Beta trials and provided Internet to hundreds of users that had signed up to the service. These were selected by the Company to serve as guineapigs for the projects, in exchange for handsome payment - 600 dollars in advance - 100 dollars per month plus 500 dollars for special equipment to pick up the signal from the satellites. The favorable results exceeded the most optimistic predictions made at parent company SpaceX.
Owner and entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Big Dream - to build a city on Mars and begin settling it by 2050!!! The cost of making this dream a reality varies between 100 billion dollars and 10 trillion dollars. Where is the money going to come from? - from the profits that will be gained through the use of the unique Internet service.
And as we always say - every project begins with a dream. Without the dream there is no accomplishment.
Starlink News February 2022
- About a month ago, on February 3, 2022, SpaceX launched 49 Starlink satellites on a low satellite orbit, using a Falcon 9 launch vehicle. (With it, our Dragon spacecraft is going to be launched in less than a month’s time). Unfortunately, the next day there was a geomagnetic storm, which impeded the satellites from reaching their location in orbit and in fact, most of them were destroyed. After their destruction, the satellites burned up upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.
- Geomagnetic storms (according to the Space Weather Prediction Center), are caused due to disturbances between the Earth’s magnetic field and the solar wind, meaning that stream of charged particles which are ejected from the Sun’s corona (a coronal mass ejection).
- The speed and intensity of the storm that affected the Starlink satellites caused the atmospheric drag to reach levels 50% higher than those recorded in previous launches, which in turn made it difficult for the satellites to reach their assigned place in orbit - it was announced by SpaceX in a statement.
- Atmospheric drag - is the result of an encounter between any body, in our case the Starlink, which is passing through an opposing flux force - in our case, the atmosphere. The opposing force is called Drag force, and it is a result of the fact that the body, in our case the Starlink, has to “shift” aside those charged particles which have arrived in the atmosphere from the geomagnetic storm, while these are attempting to counteract the drag. Since the flux force was unusually dense, many particles attached to the Starlink body, weighing it down and preventing it from reaching its destination.
- Space dangers - SpaceX commits, in its announcements, that in accordance with their design and programming, the satellites are not going to collide with other satellites on their descent back to Earth, they are not going to leave any space junk behind them and the satellite fragments will not impact Earth.
- As of February 2022, some 2000 Starlink satellites have been launched.
The empty half of the glass - when the deployment of all the satellites will be complete, the skies are not going to look the same anymore. Astronomers allege that “light pollution” is going to be caused, since the large number of satellites will disrupt star-gazing with the naked eye, and their brightness in the visible and radio wavelengths will have a considerable impact on scientific observations. Furthermore, this proliferation of objects lighting up the night skies affects the work of large telescopes which are un use by the Space Agencies or various air defense systems.
As for myself - on the one hand I’m all for progress, innovation and development, but on the other hand I’m also in favor of environmental conservation. Conflicted.