- Starlink beta test expected within the next six months.
- Elon Musk tweeted private beta will launch in three months with a public beta test following.
- The northern hemisphere will get first access.
The Starlink project will begin testing its capabilities with a private beta test within as soon as three months, so sayeth the Muskrat via twitter.
Private beta begins in ~3 months, public beta in ~6 months, starting with high latitudes— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 23, 2020
The project - which you can learn more about in succulent detail here - aims to elevate internet access and speed globally with a mass connection of satellites dubbed a "satellite constellation".
Users within the northern hemisphere will get first dibs from the current 360 satellites at the time of writing. However, Starlink plans to have 12,000 in orbit by 2030, providing complete global coverage.
As you might expect, the ambitious plan has met with some resistance from the aeronautical and astronomy community over fears of debris and visibility. Select NASA personnel and more prominent telescopic institutions have vocally opposed Starlink, even going so far as to ask the public to capture footage of Starlink 'ruining' the sky.
The main concerns about the mass of satellites are the loss of visibility for researchers and the potential for a huge shrapnel cloud for launching rockets in the future.
While they have been likened to the intensity of "...fainter stars that you can make out" by astronomer Jonathan McDowell, he also maintains the uniform pattern of thousands of satellites will make a massive impact. Mostly due to their size and relative proximity to Earth, as well as their flat widened panels that reflect the suns light.
Elon Musk dismissed such concerns and maintains head personnel are experimenting with several innovations to dull the reflective properties of its satellites as well as changing their altitude and direction of reflection. Innovations reportedly include a type of "sunshade" to dull the reflected light and an experimental matte type coating that is far less reflective.
SpaceX CEO, Gwynne Shotwell has commented on the Starlink controversy furthering Musk's sentiments. She assures the astronomy community that SpaceX does not intend to innovate at the expense of the stargazing and astronomical research community.
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