NASA raises asteroid threat, but Elon Musk led SpaceX still launches 50 satellites
Elon Musk led SpaceX has launched as many as 50 satellites despite the fact that NASA had earlier raised an asteroid warning against these launches.
SpaceX, the space tech company founded and run by Elon Musk successfully launched 50 more Starlink satellites into space. This marked the eighth deployment of the company in just 2022 and the year has barely started. This deployment also comes after NASA (National Aeronautcs and Space Administration) raising its concerns against launching so many satellites in Earth's lower orbit. Earlier this month, NASA submitted a five-page letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), highlighting the dangers of so many satellites in lower orbit of Earth and had said that it may endanger astronauts returning from space missions as well as disrupting the space agency's ability to spot dangerous asteroids heading towards Earth .
The main concern of NASA was that the orbital congestion can lead to incidents of crashes between different spacecraft in Earth orbit and these satellites. This was especially worrying as NASA claimed that the Starlink satellites of SpaceX lacked maneuverability to do course correction and avoid collision with space missions as well as other satellites in its orbit. Further, with so many satellites in the Earth's lower orbit, there is a high chance of it affecting NASA asteroid detection system which may fail to detect asteroida hurtling towards Earth. However, with its continued launch in space, Elon Musk does not appear to have any plans to slow down.
SpaceX launches 50 satellites in space
The 50 Starlink satellites were launched on February 25. The satellites were carried by a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Twitter account of SpaceX confirmed that the deployment took place as usual and it was a successful mission. One highlight of the mission was the reusable rockets. This particular booster has been launched three other times in the past. Founder and CEO Musk has stated in the past that “fully and rapidly” reusable rockets are a key breakthrough in space exploration programs.
The Starlink launches are also part of SpaceX's vision of deploying 30,000 satellites as a part of its Gen 2 phase. NASA has been a vocal critic of this venture. In its letter to NTIA, NASA wrote that adding even more SpaceX satellites to orbit would increase the congestion “exponentially” and harm its asteroid defense system.
“NASA estimates that there would be a Starlink in every single asteroid survey image taken for planetary defense against hazardous asteroid impacts, decreasing asteroid survey effectiveness by rendering portions of images unusable,” the American space agency wrote in the letter.
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