In order for SpaceX to launch thousands more satellites into space, agreements with the US research agency are necessary. He has now promised SpaceX a lot.
SpaceX has promised the US research agency NSF a number of measures to minimize interference from the Starlink satellites. According to the National Science Foundation, SpaceX will continue to try, among other things, to reduce the apparent brightness of the satellites to 7 mags so that they can no longer be seen with the naked eye. Furthermore, large US radio telescopes should not be disturbed in their work and the lasers of observatories pointing into the sky will no longer have to take Starlink into account in the future. The agreements were a prerequisite for the approval of the US communications regulator FCC for a further massive expansion of Starlink.
Darkening has not been very successful so far
With the announcement, the National Science Foundation underscores its commitment to working with SpaceX to reduce light pollution and Starlink interference with astronomical observations. Two environmental protection organizations in the USA have chosen a different path. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) want a court decision to prevent SpaceX from launching thousands more Starlink satellites into space. The NSF has already worked with SpaceX to meet the requirements that the FCC originally used to allow the construction of the mega constellation. Contrary to Starlink’s promises, however, the satellites have become brighter again since then.
SpaceX has been building Starlink since 2019, and more than 3000 active satellites are now providing fast internet connections to North America, Europe, and large parts of South America, Japan, and Australia. In the future, 30,000 satellites are supposed to connect regions where conventional technology is not economical. The warning about light pollution associated with satellites has been around for years. The bright points of light are primarily a problem for astronomy, but private observation of the night sky is also restricted. Since other constellations are planned in addition to Starlink, the problem should only get bigger. However, the NSF is optimistic that it can be solved through cooperation.