Elon Musk is launching SIXTY 'internet satellites' today in defiance of 'space junk' critics

ELON Musk plans to send another 60 internet satellites into space today – just two weeks after a launch took the same number into orbit.

The tech billionaire's rocket firm SpaceX is launching the satellites in defiance of angry critics who say Musk is clogging up Earth's orbit with "space junk".

Starlink is Musk's bid to create a network of satellites in space that will beam internet back down to Earth.

Dozens of satellites have already been launched – and Musk has approval to send tens of thousands more into orbit.

Just last month, a 229-foot-tall Falcon 9 rocket took 60 satellites into space, where they will orbit 341 miles above Earth.

And a further 60 satellites will be carried into space on Monday February 17, at 10.05am New York time (3.05pm UK time).

But despite his good intentions, Musk is facing growing criticism from the astronomy community.

There have been concerns that humanity could be trapped on Earth by too much space junk in Earth's orbit.

That's according to one space scientist, who says Musk's plan could create an impenetrable wall of space junk around our planet.

A catastrophic clutter of space debris left behind by the satellites could block rockets from leaving Earth, an effect known as "Kessler syndrome".

"The worst case is: You launch all your satellites, you go bankrupt, and they all stay there," European Space Agency scientist Dr Stijn Lemmens told Scientific American.

"Then you have thousands of new satellites without a plan of getting them out of there. And you would have a Kessler-type of syndrome."

It will take thousands of years for any SpaceX satellites left in our orbit to descend to Earth and burn up in the atmosphere.

The firm says it's already taken steps to avoid cluttering up the region. It's launching the satellites into a lower orbital plane than most space tech to avoid collisions.

Even with such precautions, mega-constellations like Starlink will results in 67,000 potential collisions per year, another space scientist warned.

"This is something we need to pay attention to,” aerospace engineer Glenn Peterson told MIT Technology Review. "We have to be proactive."

The Starlink satellites are tightly packed into the nose of one of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets, which is currently poised on a launchpad at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Musk has previously said he plans to send up nearly 12,000 satellites by the mid-2020s.

If everything goes to plan for SpaceX then internet users across the world could have 40 times faster internet speeds no matter where they live.

How much this service will cost has not yet been revealed but Musk intends to keep prices low.

What is Starlink?

Here's what you need to know about Elon Musk's satellites…

  • Starlink is a satellite project led by billionaire SpaceX CEO Elon Musk
  • Musk intends to put 12,000 satellites into the Earth's orbit so they can provide cheap WiFi to the whole world
  • SpaceX also intends to sell satellites for military, scientific and exploratory purposes
  • The satellites are being launched on top of unmanned Falcon 9 rockets
  • How they will affect the night sky is causing concern as they look brighter than expected
  • It will take at least 12 trips to take all of the satellites into Space and they will be staggered at different heights above the Earth

Last year, astronomers complained that the satellites were appearing as bright trails of light in the night sky.

"Wow!! I am in shock!! The huge amount of Starlink satellites crossed our skies tonight," said Clarae Martínez-Vázquez, an astronomer at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in northern Chile.

"Our DECam exposure was heavily affected by 19 of them. The train of Starlink satellites lasted for over 5 minutes.

The astronomer added: "Rather depressing…this is not cool!"

Back in June, the International Astronomical Union issued a statement complaining about the reflective Starlink satellites.

It argued that the probes could be "detrimental to the sensitive capabilities of large ground-based astronomical telescopes".

In November, Musk's Starlink satellites were accused of "photo-bombing" footage of the Unicorn meteor shower.

Bill Cooke, the lead of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office told Space Weather that the video of the satellites over the rare Unicorn meteor shower was a "real eye opener".

He added: "This kind of thing could force us to change how we write software to auto-detect meteors."

The Global Meteor Network (GMN) caught the footage on camera at the Farra Observatory in Italy on November 25.

GMN has over 150 meteor cameras all over the world and over half of these caught the Starlink satellites in action.

University of Western Ontario meteor researcher Denis Vida stated in a GMN blog post: "One has to be concerned how will our skies look like when hearing that there are plans to launch a total of 42,000 satellites.

"This might completely deny us to do any optical meteor observations as soon as 2024."

In other news, a supersonic Nasa X-plane that's as quiet as the "thump of a car door" is nearly ready.

Nasa has unveiled the design of a moon lander that could be taking astronauts back to the lunar surface by 2024.

And Nasa recently revealed a surreal photo of Earth taken from 4billion miles away.

What do you think of Musk's orbital antics? Let us know in the comments!

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