What Is The Starlink Satellite Train That Scared Rajouri Poonch?

by Tahir Bhat

SRINAGAR: When the residents in Rajouri and Poonch saw a huge line of bright stars moving in a direction smoothly, the panic was visible. They mistook as some unprecedented celestial body as many thought they were the elusive UFOs. Even the officials took some time to understand that it was actually the Starlink Satellite.

Representational Picture of Starlink satellite train

The sightings are quite frequent. Hours before the Rajouri Poonch saw the satellite, Huntsville in the US was also alarmed over the sighting of a mysterious string of lights.

This bright satellite is privately owned. It is actually a network of satellites and that is the reason it is called a train. It is owned by the company called SpaceX that Elon Musk owns. The world’s second-richest person, Musk has successfully sold the idea of technology, future and business and has a net worth of around US$ 30,000 crores.

The idea for this US $10 billion network was made public in early 2015. It is aimed “to provide low-cost internet to remote locations”. The company wants to launch as many as 42000 satellites in its so-called mega-constellations, but so far of 1892 launched on 32 different dates, only 1732 are operational. These satellites are connected with each other and move as a constellation in different shells. They are visible to the naked eye simply because they are located in the low orbit not far away from earth. The first 60 satellites were launched in March 2019. On December 3, it launched 48 Starlink satellites.

The glittering objects have confused the scientific community who believe they will interfere with observations of the universe. These satellites have large flat panels that reflect light, which is the main criticism of the “menace” by the astronomers. The company is planning to rotate the solar panels towards the sun thus reducing reflection and ‘light pollution’.

It is worth mentioning here that mankind has so far launched only 9000 satellites and the SpaceX is planning 42000. These satellites being in earth’s low orbit are less than 500 km away and they can be pulled out anytime they die and they will automatically burn while entering the atmosphere and not become space junk. Each one of them weighs around 230 kgs.

Elon Musk

Interestingly to get an internet connection from this satellite, people will have to invest US $499 for hardware and another US$99 a month on a recurring basis. It offers a 100 Mbps download but service areas remain spotty. The train covers the entire globe but the service can be availed in countries having licensed SpaceX, which are not more than 21 countries. India is expected to get this service in 2022.

Spotting this train has become a new virtual game with some websites offering details about when they can be spotted and where.

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