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Home https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ Science https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ While SpaceX launches dozens of satellites at once, some fear orbiting congestion: NPR

While SpaceX launches dozens of satellites at once, some fear orbiting congestion: NPR



SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying 60 Starlink satellites. The Starlink constellation will eventually consist of thousands of satellites designed to provide high-speed internet service worldwide.

NurPhoto via Getty Images


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NurPhoto via Getty Images

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida, carrying 60 Starlink satellites. The Starlink constellation will eventually consist of thousands of satellites designed to provide high-speed internet service worldwide.

NurPhoto via Getty Images

SpaceX successfully launched 60 communications satellites using a single rocket.

For the second time in less than a year, Elon Musk's company made such a launch, noting a dramatic increase in the number of satellites in orbit.

Next year SpaceX and a competitor, OneWeb, plan to put hundreds of network satellites in orbit to provide high-speed Internet to anywhere on Earth. Critics, however, worry that poor regulations, poor infrastructure and a fast-moving ethos of Moscow could lead to chaos.

"If things break down in space, it's quite difficult to solve this problem," says Tim Farrar, president of TMF Associates, a satellite communications consulting and research firm. "It's not like your car gets broken on the side of the road."

In a statement to NPR, SpaceX said it believed the network could work safely. "Starlink is on the leading edge of debris mitigation in orbit, meeting or exceeding all regulatory and industry standards," the company says.

Destroyed satellites or what's left of them are already a big problem, especially in low-Earth orbit, where SpaceX's StarX network is deploying. In January, the European Space Agency estimated that there were nearly one million pieces of space junk larger than 1 centimeter (about 3/8 inch) orbiting the planet.