I didn’t see this coming. I should have seen this coming. I remember, as a boy, looking at the nighttime sky to watch Echo 1, the first artificial, Earth-orbiting communications satellite capable of relaying signals to other points on Earth, pass by overhead.
Now, people can look at the sky and see satellites in formations known as SpaceX Starlink satellite trains, as viewed shortly after their launching. The satellites then spread out. As remarkable as the satellites are for their ability to improve wireless access to internet service, they also bring a form of sunlight-reflecting interference to the sky that possibly few people realized would happen.
SpaceX has 300 such satellites in orbit since launching the first 50 on March 24, 2019. The company plans to have 1,500 satellites in orbit by the end of the year. The FCC has approved 12,000 altogether, and SpaceX has applied for permission to launch as many as 30,000 more.
Maybe it won’t be long before I will be grateful for having had decades of viewing the nighttime sky almost entirely free of seeing fast-moving satellites. When multiple satellites crisscross the nighttime sky, it will be evidence of modern telecommunications, along with the loss of a natural background that may once have seemed eternal.
It is early days, though. Perhaps after the satellites spread out, reorient their solar panels and rise to higher orbits, they won’t be such a bother.
I see the irony in my own thinking, though: I don’t mind cell towers, but I don’t like the satellites.