WASHINGTON — Astronomers who have spent the last year worried about the effect that SpaceX’s Starlink satellites will have on their observations say they are increasingly concerned about the impact from other proposed megaconstellations.
Astronomers became alarmed about the effect the Starlink satellites would have after the launch of the initial set of 60 spacecraft in May 2019. Since then, an American Astronomical Society (AAS) committee has been working with the company to discuss ways to mitigate the effect the satellites would have on astronomy.
SpaceX has responded to those concerns first with an experimental “DarkSat” launched in January, whose surfaces were darkened to reduce the amount of sunlight they reflected. SpaceX followed that up with a “VisorSat” on the most recent Starlink launch June 3, a satellite that has sunshades intended to block sunlight from reaching reflective surfaces on the satellite.
While the effectiveness of VisorSat will have to be measured in the weeks ahead once the spacecraft reaches its final orbit, astronomers say they’re pleased that SpaceX has been willing to work with them on the issue. “The bottom line is that significant resources at SpaceX are being devoted to these technical solutions,” said James Lowenthal of ...