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    Re: Satellite Constellations Could Harm the Environment
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2022 Nov 28, 15:10 -0800

    As noted in the article, the report from the US GAO is merely a recommendation "suggesting" that the FCC and other regulators should "consider" changes to their rules. 

    Have any of you seen a Starlink satellite yet? I have, but it takes effort. They're relatively easy to see for a week or so right after a new batch is launched, and sometimes spectacular, but only if you're in the right place at the right time. Once they're in their operating orbital slots, they're faint. And there are thousands of faint satellites already up there. While regulation may impact Starlink, I think it will be done in by a list of negative factors:

    • Musk seems a bit distracted at the moment as he frantically tries to re-invent Twitter, which he now owns personally.
    • The system and network are quite expensive for consumers both in fixed, up-front costs and in subscription fees. Here's a recent summary which, while addressing some of the limitations of Starlink, is still generous about ignoring its faults: https://www.satelliteinternet.com/providers/starlink/.
    • And Starlink has faults. Got any trees around your home? Then your Starlink internet will be poor. And bandwidth is erratic. Sure they offer 100-500MB/s service, but they don't actually promise that, and apparently they only rarely deliver that. 
    • The market is highly competitive, and they can easily be undercut by other satellite internet providers or wirred internet providers.

    The satellite system being tested by the new "Bluwalker 3" satellite has gotten headlines lately. There's a good article by Tony Mallama on the brightness of this satellite at S&T: https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/bluewalker-3-satellite-unfolds-brightening-40-fold/. One first-magnitude satellite (as this one is under favorable conditions) is not a problem. In fact, there are several brighter than this regularly including the two space stations (ISS and CSS) and there have been many others in prior decades, and many satellites flare much brighter than this. A thousand first-magnitude satellites would be awful. It would also be highly improbable on economic grounds.

    Frank Reed

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