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SpaceX Delays Launches Of Starlink Satellites As It Is Adding ‘Lasers’
By Alexa Heah, 26 Aug 2021
Image via L Galbraith / Shutterstock.com
SpaceX has revealed that the reason no Starlink satellites have launched since June is because the company has been adding “lasers” to them.
“We’re flying a number of laser terminals right now in space. That’s why we have been struggling for six or eight weeks — we wanted the next set to have laser terminals on them,” said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell at the 36th annual Space Symposium.
According to Space.com, these laser crosslinks were first added to Starlink satellites back in January 2021. With them installed, the satellites will be able to transfer information and communicate with one another more efficiently.
As SpaceX integrates the laser crosslinks more widely, it hopes that new batches of satellites won’t require ground stations on Earth. This way, the company’s satellite internet coverage could be provided to customers in areas where ground stations can’t be built.
The pause is ending soon, with SpaceX planning to launch more Starlink satellites into orbit in three weeks’ time. The firm has over 1,600 satellites currently in orbit, with that number expected to grow exponentially as it has filed for permission to send up to 42,000 for the entire constellation.
However, recent research has shown that as the number of satellites increase, so do the chances of a collision. As of now, Starlink satellites are believed to already account for over 50% of the close encounters in space, with the number set to climb even higher as more are launched. It seems the firm is actively working on solutions to prevent mishaps.
“The worst thing in the world is to have a collision,” said Shortwell.
[via Space.com, cover image via L Galbraith / Shutterstock.com]
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