After the launch of the Crew Dragon capsule (dated 30 May 2020), SpaceX does not stop but this time it will be up to the communications satellites Starlink! When in Italy it will be about 3.25 of this night, the company of Elon Musk has scheduled the eighth launch of its satellites.
The planned launch from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Cape Canaveral with the first stage of the Falcon 9 which has already been used, since 2018, for four other missions. Also this fifth time an attempt will be made to recover the first stage by making it land on the drone-ship Just Read the Instructions (JRTI) after just under 9 minutes from departure. After 14 minutes, the satellites can be unhooked from the platform.
Will VisorSat manage to reduce the brightness of Starlink?
Of the 60 units of SpaceX Starlink expected, there will also be a model called VisorSat, which will allow (at least in theory) to reduce its brightness. This is a known problem with very unfavorable opinions from the scientific community all over the world and that Elon Musk is trying to solve.
As previously announced, i VisorSat satellites they will use a new design which should make it possible to reduce the light reflected by the satellite antenna area and therefore create fewer problems. It is basically about “roller blind” of a non-reflective orientable material that will be useful when the satellites are in the operational orbit.
However, it will not be the only strategy put in place by SpaceX for Starlink. In fact, the US company intends to try out new satellite structures during the orbital positioning phases which would reduce the visibility during the orbit raise and in the parking orbit.
By orienting the satellites in such a way as to be placed perpendicular to the sun’s rays, this would result in a reduction in the visibility from Starlink. This solution would be usable before positioning in the operational orbit. As explained by INAF for, this solution could lead to some problems both as regards the correct positioning of the satellite and the correct ability to feed through the sun’s rays. We still don’t know if this idea will work properly, just like the idea of “sun visors”if so it could be a breakthrough for either SpaceX that for the scientific community (but also for simple citizens who want to observe the sky without “distractions” human).
After about 23 minutes from launch, the newly launched satellites will be visible from Italy (especially for those who are from the North-East) with a transit that will see them in a very close group. On the other hand, tomorrow at 9:35 pm they will be visible mainly from Southern Italy (from Sicily, passing through Calabria to Puglia) and more difficultly to Tuscany-Emilia Romagna.