SpaceX is Testing Sun Shields to Lessen Light Pollution with This Week’s Launch

SpaceX launched another set of Starlink satellites last night. The launch included over 60 satellites to join the 420 already in orbit. One thing was different about this launch – one of the satellites included the sun shield that SpaceX designed to address concerns of light pollution from the low orbit satellites.

SpaceX discussed plans for the shields in a virtual briefing in April. At that time, Elon Musk said “Our objectives, generally, are to make the satellites invisible to the naked eye within a week, and to minimize the impact on astronomy, especially so that we do not saturate observatory detectors and inhibit discoveries.”

In that meeting, Musk also announced that the VisorSat system would be tested with the following round of satellites, which launched Wednesday night just before 9:30pm ET.

If this visor system test goes well, SpaceX could make the visors a permanent addition to the satellites for launches going forward. With astronomers pushing for answers about how light pollution will be addressed, the pressure is on SpaceX to continue making progress.

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