The businessman Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, dismissed on Monday the concerns of scientists about the possible detrimental effect on astronomical observations caused by the constellation of satellites launched by his company, placed in orbit to form a space internet network.
The satellites will not cause “any impact at all on astronomical discoveries,” Musk said at a conference on satellite internet in Washington.
The billionaire South African’s project to offer internet access in remote areas of populated centers, called Starlink, already has about 300 satellites in orbit and is expected to expand that amount to a potential figure of 42 thousand.
The scientists objected to the initiative after a first litter of satellites could be seen in the night sky like a train of bright lights shortly after its launch last year.
Their argument is that they represent a death sentence for optical astronomical observations and also those made with radio telescopes.
According to Musk, his company has already taken steps to reduce the reflection produced by its devices in orbit.
“I trust that we will not cause any impact at all on astronomical discoveries, zero,” Musk said. “That is my prediction. We will take corrective action if it is above zero,” he promised.
The businessman, also known for his role in front of the manufacturer of electric cars Tesla, said that the reflection caused by the satellites was due to the fact that they were “turning” in ascent towards their orbit, but that once they reached their definitive trajectory the problem disappear.
He also added that SpaceX was working with the scientific community to reduce the reflective potential of satellites, painting their antennas black and equipping them with space umbrellas to block sunlight.
Starlink is expected to become operational by the end of 2020 in the northern region of the United States and in Canada and expand to global coverage in 2021.