August 17, 2022

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SpaceX calms you down.  The next generation of Starlink satellites will stop making life for astronomers less difficult

SpaceX calms you down. The next generation of Starlink satellites will stop making life for astronomers less difficult

Currently, more than 2,200 satellites orbit the Earth, or about a third of what SpaceX wants to achieve over time. Fortunately, Elon Musk is listening to others and developing its technology, which will be reflected in the next generation of greatly improved Starlink satellites. We are simply talking about Starlink 2.0, which will be revolutionary in terms of advancement compared to its older brothers.

The new generation of Starlink satellites will outperform the older satellites in all respects. The size of the entire constellation is expected to increase to 4,200 over the next 18 months

Let’s start with what has already been revealed about these satellites. It is known that Starlink 2.0 will be much larger than the first versions. They measure about 7 meters and weigh about 1.25 tons, so they will be about four times larger and five times heavier than the first version. At the same time, they are supposed to be “more efficient demand”, which likely means that their bandwidth will go from 18 Gbit / s to nearly 180 Gbit / s, but that is not the end of the improvements.

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Astronomical organizations that have been complaining about Starlink satellites for a long time will be able to breathe after years of warning about the negative impact of the huge constellation planned by SpaceX on their work. The company has rightly developed a convenient solution, and recently published a public document outlining all the new actions it will take to stop endangering space monitoring.

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The improvements relate to the way the Starlink satellites reflect sunlight as they orbit the Earth, and it appears that they will eventually be “invisible to the naked eye when at standard operating altitude”. SpaceX achieved this after a long collaboration with astronomers, which resulted in new elements that reduce the amount of sunlight reflected back to Earth by Starlink satellites.

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Instead of sun visors on its satellites, SpaceX will now use mirror coatings that diffuse most of the reflected sunlight (according to calculations up to ten times more than current Starlinks). This, in turn, means that it will be less focused and less visible from the ground. However, it will not end there, since Starlinki 2.0 is also made of dark materials, they will use a material that is not white, a dark red dye on the solar cells, and finally components that cannot be covered with mirror foil, they will be painted “black paint with low reflectance.” “.

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By far the most important thing is that Starlink 2.0 will regularly reposition the solar panels at certain times of the day to reflect less light back toward Earth. This would be costly because it would reduce the power of the satellites by 25%, but Starlinki 2.0 is designed to deal with this significant reduction in power. SpaceX is also looking for a solution to improve this situation with respect to satellites already in orbit.