During the Christmas week, stargazers in several Midwest states witnessed a string of lights in the night sky. Don’t fret, it is not the beginning of an alien invasion with UFOs in attack formation. The unidentified objects are small satellites that were recently launched into orbit by SpaceX.
This week, photos and videos of a strange row of lights in the sky over Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, and Ontario, Canada.
The lights were also seen in France on Christmas Day.
The satellites were brought into orbit last month and were seen in Venezuela, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, California.
The sightings were not Santa and his reindeer flying overhead or UFOs, but rather a new SpaceX satellite system. On November 11, 2019, SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The system of satellites is called Starlink. There were originally 60 satellites launched in May and another 60 in November. The satellites are reflecting sunlight to dark areas on the planet and can be seen with the naked eye. The satellites are so easy to see because they are relatively low, at an altitude of 175 miles above Earth’s surface. SpaceX will eventually propel the satellites to a higher altitude of over 300 miles.
You can use the website SATFLARE to see when the Starlink train will fly overhead where you live.
Starlink, which is expected to be fully operational in mid-2020, will provide internet to rural areas that don’t have reliable internet connections. “SpaceX is developing a low latency, broadband internet system to meet the needs of consumers across the globe,” SpaceX said. “Enabled by a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites, Starlink will provide fast, reliable internet to populations with little or no connectivity, including those in rural communities and places where existing services are too expensive or unreliable.”
SpaceX plans to launch thousands of these satellites orbiting the Earth to blanket the planet and provide worldwide internet service. In October, SpaceX asked the International Telecommunication Union to arrange spectrum for 30,000 additional Starlink satellites. This is in addition to the 12,000 low-orbit satellites that Elon Musk’s space company was already approved by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
Each Starlink satellite is said to cost $300,000, but SpaceX expects that the company will make $30-$50 billion a year in revenue. The company will charge $200 for a receiver unit that can be placed on the roof of a house, a car, or a boat.