SpaceX launches 22 new Starlink satellites

By Jacob Suever
Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2024 - 3:32pm
Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2024 - 3:33pm

SpaceX Starlink Mission
A view of the SpaceX Starlink Mission in May 2019.

Aerospace manufacturer SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, lit up the sky across the southwestern United States after the launch of 22 satellites into orbit on Monday evening. The satellites were aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California around 7:30 p.m. Monday night.

The rocket’s ascent was visible in many areas of the southwestern United States, including Arizona. 

The first stage of Falcon 9 came back to Earth about 8.5 minutes after liftoff, as planned. It landed on the droneship "Of Course I Still Love You," stationed in the Pacific Ocean.

Connie Walker, scientist at NOIR Lab in Tucson and co-director of the International Astronomical Union Centre for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Sky from Satellite Constellation Interference (IAU CPS), believes Starlink can be very useful in assisting remote, rural communities in Arizona get proper Internet access. 

“It has benefits, especially when you think about the remote areas in terms of education, and maybe if they have any access to health needs, and things like that,” Walker said.

However, the interference that these satellites have with modern astronomy cannot be overlooked.

“Like with any camera when you leave the camera integrating or leave your eye open basically, you don’t see a dot going across the sky you see a streak on your image, and this streak is a loss of data basically, whatever was underneath it is now no longer there,” Walker said regarding the interference. 

Walker also said SpaceX is working to darken the surface of their satellites to reduce interference.