The fourth batch of Starlink satellites took to the skies on January 28th at 9:28 EST (14:28 UTC). That brings the total number of Starlink satellites in orbit to 240 delighting prospective internet users and dismaying many in the astronomical community.
SpaceX is assembling the Starlink megaconstellation with the aim of providing high-speed broadband internet to places where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable. The initial constellation consists of 1,584 satellites, and SpaceX wants to put the bulk of those into space by the end of 2020. Ultimately, SpaceX intends to put on the order of 40,000 satellites into low-Earth orbit, raising concerns about the night sky and the ability to do research astronomy.
“The new satellites are brighter than virtually all of the 18,000 objects in the public catalog,” says Patrick Seitzer (University of Michigan). “Which is itself incomplete!”