SpaceX anticipates launching thousands of satellites — creating a mega-constellation of false stars collectively called Starlink that will connect the entire planet to the internet, and introduce a new line of business for the private spaceflight company.
While astronomers agree that global internet service is a worthy goal, the satellites are bright — too bright.
“This has the potential to change what a natural sky looks like,” said Tyler Nordgren, an astronomer who is now working full-time to promote night skies.
And SpaceX is not alone. Other companies, such as Amazon, Telesat and OneWeb, want to get into the space internet business. Their ambitions to make satellites nearly as plentiful as cellphone towers highlight conflicting debates as old as the space age about the proper use of the final frontier.
While private companies see major business opportunities in low-Earth orbit and beyond, many skygazers fear that space will no longer be “the province of all mankind,” as stated in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.