Light From Elon Musk's Starlink Satellites Ruins Space Photos, Says Russian Government Agency

Russia's Academy of Sciences will complain to the United Nations about the light reflected from the Starlink satellite system, saying it interferes with the work of astronomers, it has been reported.

Batches of satellites continue to be sent up into orbit to work with ground transceivers with the aim of providing greater broadband internet access on Earth, especially in areas where connections are harder to get, or more expensive.

Lifted up on SpaceX's reusable Falcon 9 rocket, the first Starlink launch took place on May 23, 2019, and the project is a key part of billionaire Elon Musk's cosmic plans.

But Nikolai Samus, a researcher from the Russian academy, said the network of hundreds of satellites reflects light from the sun and can corrupt between 30 to 40 percent of astronomical images.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk
SpaceX chief Elon Musk after the launch of SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo mission at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 2, 2019. Russia says his satellites are emitting too much light and affecting space imaging. JIM WATSON/Getty Images

According to state-run news agency RIA Novosti, the Russian academy's concerns are shared by colleagues from the European Space Agency and it will take them to the U.N.

Samus told an audience at the Moscow planetarium, "We are currently drafting a letter (for the U.N) from the Royal Academy and tomorrow we will discuss this issue with our vice president Yuri Balega. Such a letter will come from us."

Last month, a batch of 60 Starlink satellites were launched, bringing its constellation to 300 satellites, according to Tech Crunch, which reported that they could be providing internet access to the U.S. and Canada by the middle of 2020.

But concerns have been raised before about the impact of Musk's Spacelink plans which would add potentially thousands of satellites into orbit, increasing the risk of creating space debris.

The head of the Russian defense company Vympel, Sergey Boev has expressed concerns that the Starlink system could be used for military purposes, Russian media reported.

He believed it was cause for alarm that the newly-appointed commander of the U.S. Space Force, John Raymond, had met with Musk to discuss how the the satellites could help the Pentagon, according to Russian outlet news.ru.

Last October, Reuters reported that the U.S. Air Force program Global Lightning is using the network to test encrypted internet services for military planes.

Russia has previously taken issue with Musk's plans, accusing SpaceX of pushing it out of the carrier rocket market. Moscow announced in September 2019 it would build its reusable Argo rocket to compete with Musk's Falcon 9 rockets.

Russia hopes it can supply the International Space Station [ISS] by 2024, with domestically produced rockets, according to the RBC news website.

Newsweek has contacted SpaceX for comment.

Light From Elon Musk's Starlink Satellites Ruins Space Photos, Says Russian Government Agency | World