In a virtual briefing this week, Elon Musk shared details of SpaceX plans to cut down on the amount of light coming from Starlink satellites, addressing concerns about the growing number of satellites being approved by the FCC and the light pollution they’ll cause.
“Our objectives, generally, are to make the satellites invisible to the naked eye within a week, and to minimize the impact on astronomy, especially so that we do not saturate observatory detectors and inhibit discoveries,” Musk said.
Previously, SpaceX discussed plans to use a dark paint to cut down on satellite visibility, then shared the idea of a “patio umbrella”-like shade. The new plan is based on “sun visors” that Musk has described on Twitter, with a design to block light.
It’s made of a special dark foam that’s extremely radio transparent, so as not to affect the phased array antennas. Looks a lot like a car sun visor.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 22, 2020
“We have a radio-transparent foam that will deploy nearly upon the satellite being released, and it blocks the sun from reaching the antennas,” Musk said, according to a report from Space News. “They’re sun visors, essentially: they flip out and block the sun and prevent reflections.”
The VisorSat system will be tested on the next round of satellites to be launched and says that they’ll have a “massive effect” on the amount of light that will be visible.
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