Why Question 42,000 SpaceX Satellites? Lots of Reasons! 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Countdown to March 19/20th, 2021 Global Protest – Part 1

By Patricia Burke

There are some unresolved issues about blanketing low earth orbit (LEO) with satellites, in order to provide wireless telecommunications from space.

As we count down to the March 19, 20th Global Protest Actions, coinciding with the Equinox, we’ll look at a few concerns voiced by experts, and an informed public.

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Part 1: There are no trashcans and no trash pickup in space.

PHYS.ORG:Crashes involving large satellites at very high speeds (known as hypervelocity) are rare and dangerous, generating clouds of debris that endanger spacecraft around the planet. The first time it happened was in 2009 when the active communication satellite Iridium 33 struck the decommissioned Russian satellite Cosmos 2251, resulting in a debris field of about 1,000 large objects in low Earth orbit.”[1]

Union of Concerned Scientists: “Debris in low Earth orbit travels 30 times faster than a commercial jet aircraft. At these speeds, pieces of debris larger than 1 cm (half an inch) can severely damage or destroy a satellite, and it is not possible to shield effectively against debris of this size. The Chinese destruction of a relatively small satellite roughly doubled the debris threat to satellites in the most heavily used part of Low Earth Orbit.” [2]

POPULAR MECHANICS: “Scientists Want to Destroy Zombie Satellites With Lasers. What Could Go Wrong? This space junk solution may cause problems of its own. There are approximately 23,000 pieces of space debris larger than 10 centimeters orbiting Earth, including about 3,000 defunct satellites, according to NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office (ODPO). If any of these bits of space junk slam into each other, the collisions could lead to large swaths of debris that might hinder many space activities, including the use of satellites, for generations. “The problem with the lasers, as with a lot of space junk removal mechanisms, is that if you can remove a piece of junk from orbit, then you can remove a working satellite,” Gorman says. ‘Any system to actively remove orbital debris is also effectively an anti-satellite weapon.’”[3]

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SPACE.COM: “Thousands more satellites will soon orbit Earth. We need better rules to prevent space crashes. Most satellites in low Earth orbit are operating between 600 and 800 km above sea level. This is considered a congested area, as there are lots of satellites there already. Small satellites have shorter lifespans than the larger satellites, which typically orbit above low Earth orbit. However, it can still take up to about 150 years for satellites to be removed, by re-entering the atmosphere and burning up, if they are about 750 km above sea level. Some are removed purposefully, through controlled reentry, and others are designed to fall in an uncontrolled way. Satellite and mega-constellation operators must consider ways of reducing the debris caused by these satellites above and beyond the usual procedure, in order to maintain a sustainable use of low Earth orbit.” [4]

BUSINESS INSIDER:  “What Elon Musk’s 42,000 Starlink satellites could do for – and to – planet Earth  Over the next few decades, Elon Musk is hoping to send 42,000 satellites to space. He is hoping those satellites bring high-speed internet to every corner of the world- from the rainforest to Antarctica. But experts worry that the number of satellites could have a major impact on our planet. Their bright reflections are already blocking the views of astronomers looking for deadly asteroids. If enough of them become disabled, which is already happening, they could also block off space travel for decades.

As of early October, SpaceX has launched more than 700 satellites into orbit, with a plan to release a total of 12,000 over the next five years, half of them by the end of 2024. And Musk wants to add another 30,000 to that, coming to a total of 42,000 satellites circling Earth. All of these satellites will also be much closer, anywhere from 200 to 400 miles above the planet in low-Earth orbit. Every satellite will connect with several others via laser beams, creating something like the network’s backbone.

And to actually bring this internet into your home, you’ll need to get a pizza-sized antenna. This phased-array antenna can aim its beam at whatever satellite is overhead, which will maintain an internet signal in your home. But this scheme isn’t without problems.

There’s a concern about space debris, because when you have so many satellites in the closest, tightest, densest orbits around Earth, there’s a higher chance that those satellites could collide with each other or with other satellites. Those crashes would create clouds of debris that can orbit the Earth for years, decades, or even centuries. And that debris can then disable or cause other satellites to crash into each other, creating even more debris, and this problem spirals out of control in an effect called the Kessler syndrome. And if we reach that, then essentially space is too unsafe to access.

SpaceX has said its satellites can automatically move out of the way to avoid collisions. But dozens of SpaceX satellites are already disabled and can’t move at all, posing a potential threat. And those concerned with SpaceX’s plans are lobbying the FCC to rein in the company and more strictly regulate low-Earth orbit. And that could make it more expensive and harder to deploy the planned 42,000 satellites. But it doesn’t stop at Starlink. Amazon’s Kuiper project, OneWeb, China’s Hongyan, and other projects are looking to challenge SpaceX by launching their own global networks of hundreds or thousands of satellites. If they all got their way with little to no regulation, we could end up with 100,000 satellites encasing our planet within the next 10 years, dramatically increasing the risk of blocking off space for everyone.”[5] VIDEO AT LINK

Despite the fact that we are launching thousands of satellites without addressing disposal issues, we have, however, figured out how to hide telecom electronics from the public, in a trash can, here on earth.

Get Informed, Get Involved

Read and sign the Open Letter to Elon Musk:

Blog post, Art Celebration For Children:

Link to the actual Letter to Children – Our Earth, Our Sky

5G Satellite Protest Rally at SpaceX headquarters, March 19th, Hawthorne, CA. SATELLITES, ROCKETS, AND 5G ON EARTH AND IN SKY. WHAT IS THE COST TO HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT?  5G SPACEX SATELLITE PROTEST March 19, 2021 • Hawthorne, CA 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM 1 Rocket Road, Hawthorne, CA Parking limited—Uber or bus recommended Join us and people around the world as we demand an immediate halt to 5G satellites & technology on earth & in space until proven safe… as we call for safer and wiser technology options. https://stop5ginternational.org/5g-spacex-satellite-protest-march-19-2021/

Over 20,000 members at: Global Action to Stop 5G:


[1] https://phys.org/news/2020-01-defunct-satellites-collision.html

[2] https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/space-debris-anti-satellite-weapons

[3] https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a35561884/scientists-want-to-destroy-space-junk-satellites-with-lasers/

[4] https://www.space.com/satellite-megaconstellations-growing-space-crash-rules


Top image art by Flo Freshman

Patricia Burke works with activists across the country and internationally calling for new biologically-based microwave radio frequency exposure limits. She is based in Massachusetts and can be reached at [email protected].

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