ROANOKE, Va. – SpaceX launched 22 Starlink internet satellites into the sky on Tuesday night and some members of our communities could see the whole thing.
“It helps people understand the revolution that’s happening in space and the things it can do and certainly communication is one of them. It’s not the only one,” Mark Psiaki, a Virginia Tech professor said.
A revolution, that at a glance just looks like a line of moving stars.
“15 years ago, nobody was seriously talking about having thousands of satellites in a constellation,” Psiaki said. “It’s just ridiculous, it would cost too much…and now it exists.”
For one local resident, they were lucky enough to see it in person.
“Just watching it move across the sky and then disappearing and just wondering what was going on up there,” Kimberly Ascue, a 10 News viewer said. “Again, it’s really hard to wrap your head around.”
So, it raised the question, why are we able to see the train of satellites so clearly?
“It’s usually probably within an hour of sunset, when you still have the sun low on the horizon to the west,” WSLS Meteorologist Chris Michaels said. “So, when you see the satellite, you’re getting the sun’s reflection off the satellite. that’s what’s allowing you to be able to see them in that train.”
When seeing the line in the sky, you may think the Starlink satellites are connected to stay in formation, but they aren’t.
“These things are only 20 to 25 miles apart; they are way further apart in their final orbits. So, this is a temporary thing that they are this close together,” Psiaki said.
Meteorologist Chris Michaels tells us with the clouds rolling in, the most recent launch may be hard to see, but there will be plenty of other opportunities in future launches.