SpaceX will launch even more Starlink satellites into orbit next year, and new reports say the company will aim for a total of at least 144 flights in 2024, roughly 12 flights a month. The news was shared by company exec Bill Gerstenmaier, who advised the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Space and Science that it will attempt to reach 100 flights by the end of 2023.
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The news that SpaceX is aiming for 12 flights a month in 2024 is intriguing and also a bit concerning, especially if the reasoning behind the flights is to officially roll out satellite-to-cell service using Starlink satellites. Starlink revealed its plan to offer satellite cellphone service earlier this year, and that means putting even more satellites into space around our planet.
While Starlink’s expansion isn’t unexpected, it does continue to dogpile onto the concerns about just how crowded near-Earth orbit is coming with satellites, especially as commercial space stations start to ramp up, too, and NASA prepares to retire the ISS in a few years. SpaceX also works alongside other agencies to launch various satellites and missions into space and will play a part in the Artemis III mission that puts humanity back on the Moon.
There are already well over 3,500 Starlink satellites in orbit, according to an interactive animation. With that number only set to skyrocket in the future, soon Starlink will hold a tight grip on near-Earth orbit space. It is not clear if this will cause problems with future launches of space missions, but there have been concerns raised in the past regarding how Starlink and other satellites are clogging up space on our planet.
With these newer satellites only getting bigger and bigger, it also makes sense to question how they might affect the ongoing issue of light pollution, which has already seen the brightest light in the sky become a satellite after the launch of BlueWalker 3, another cellular-based satellite.