CASPER, Wyo. — The night before SpaceX launched 21 more Starlink satellites into low orbit, the skies over Mills were clear enough to see a satellite train passing overhead.
Riley Shepperson captured the train passing overhead in a video submitted to Oil City News.
Just a few hours later, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from California, carrying 21 Starlink satellites to orbit, Space.com reported. The satellites entered low Earth orbit about 62.5 minutes after launch.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX company is in the process of filling Earth’s orbit with its Starlink satellites, which the company will use to provide high-speed internet services to almost every underserved rural area on the planet, Oil City News reported in 2022. At least 2,500 have been placed into orbit by August 2022.
According to Astronomy.com, the “satellite trains” consist of a cluster of small satellites released from SpaceX’s cargo rockets, which fly in a “parking orbit” for several days. From there, the individual satellites open their solar panels and deploy into their permanent orbits around the planet by using small rockets.
The trains are most noticeable because they’re flying in their lowest orbit, but even when the satellites move upward they can still be easily seen from Earth. In contrast, traditional satellites are very large and orbit far out in space, making them more “visible” to dishes by overcoming the planet’s circumference, but in turn more difficult to see by eye and ground telescopes. Musk’s satellite “constellations” are orbiting much closer to the planet, and in exponentially greater numbers. As of 2021, SpaceX owned nearly half of the satellites in space.
See Oil City News’s previous coverage, including reactions, here.