• Dom Reynolds

Electric Moons clogging up our skies

Singer-songwriter Claire Baker has recently expanded on the idea behind her song ’Electric Moons’, from Million Pebble Beach’s forthcoming album, produced by Dom Reynolds.


Space is increasingly recognised by nation states as integral to the function of society. If we lose contact with satellites we lose not just earth observation spy satellites but, as we move towards internet of things and e.g. autonomous vehicles, broadband from the skies, increasing reliance on accurate GNSS (Global Navigational Systems), financial transactions, disaster / weather monitoring etc. So you are seeing a recognition, with this evolution in societal reliance onspace assets, of their strategic importance to a functioning society.

Hence recently announced military space strategies from the USA, from France https://www.iiss.org/blogs/military-balance/2019/08/france-space-strategy, and from the UK https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-poised-for-take-off-on-ambitious-defence-space-strategy-with-personnel-boost, and of course, China. This strategic shift in the USA was catalysed by India's decision to blow up one of their own space assets recently https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/south-asia/article/3004228/india-blowing-satellite-missile-was-terrible-nasa-says-it

(China did this also back in 2007). The strategy of large geostationary orbit spy satellites each costing hundreds of millions of dollars (which are hardened against missile attack) is being abandoned for constellations of satellites in low and medium earth orbit - seen as more robust (there's some redundancy) and harder to attack. This is also reflection of evolution of capability of small satellites (miniaturisation of electronics), and the lower latency afforded by proximity to earth.

Elon Musk's SpaceX, meanwhile, is throwing up constellations of THOUSANDS of low earth orbit satellites, Starlink has filed for 42,000 satellites. These are notionally for consumer broadband, although the low latency offered is really valuable to the high speed transactions financial community, and that could be enough to make this a commercial success. It's absolutely messing up the night skies for astronomers and there are more and more to come - https://www.businessinsider.com/spacex-darkened-starlink-internet-satellites-astronomy-explainer-2020-1?r=US&IR=T

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