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SpaceX shares footage of gorgeous orbital sunrise

SpaceX has shared footage of a stunning orbital sunrise captured during the deployment of another batch of Starlink satellites.

The video shows the orbital sunrise occurring just as the SpaceX vehicle deploys the Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit.

View of yesterday’s @Starlink deploy during an orbital sunrise pic.twitter.com/DQRfPp0DEG

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 7, 2024

An orbital sunrise is seen from space and occurs when the sun peeks over the horizon of Earth. If astronauts aboard the International Space Station stared out of the window for 24 hours straight, they’d see 16 orbital sunrises due to the high speed at which the facility orbits our planet.

The Falcon 9 rocket powering the latest Starlink mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center on Monday, May 6. The vehicle deployed 23 Starlink satellites to low-Earth to further build out the company’s internet-from-space service.

This was the 15th flight for the first-stage Falcon 9 booster in support of these missions. It previously launched CRS-24, Eutelsat Hotbird 13F, OneWeb 1, SES-18 and SES-19, and now 11 Starlink missions. It was also the 31st Starlink mission of 2024, with most of the flights deploying between 20 and 23 satellites each.

As of last month, there were just over 5,800 Starlink satellites in orbit, with the first deployment of 60 satellites taking place in 2019. SpaceX hopes to have as many as 42,000 Starlink satellites in orbit in the coming years.

The service’s primary aim is to bring internet connectivity to remote parts of the world, though it also serves customers in other locations, with around 2.7 million people subscribing to the service.

Astronomers have expressed concern over the deployment of small satellites by SpaceX, saying that the sunlight that reflects off of them can cause bright streaks that interfere with their observations of deep space. In a bid to lessen the impact, SpaceX added a coat of paint to the satellites, which reduced the strength of the reflection. A mirror sticker is also used on some of the satellites to reflect the sunlight away from Earth.

Other companies are also preparing to launch their own internet-from-space services using small satellites. Amazon, for example, is making progress with Project Kuiper, and plans to launch its first satellites this year.

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Trevor Mogg
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