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SpaceX's recent launch of 60 low-earth orbit satellites is just the start of a program to deploy thousands of relatively small, smart, and potentially disruptive devices for supplying broadband internet to many of the 3.8 billion humans currently lacking that utility. But astronomers have been quick to express concern about what these endlessly moving, sometimes bright constellations will do for anyone hoping to study or simply experience the night sky and the cosmos beyond. 

What exactly is going on?

Several commercial entities are aiming to fill a huge gap in human data access (affecting about half our species' population) by launching a new generation of orbital broadband satellites. SpaceX is perhaps the most ambitious, with a final goal of some 12,000 'Starlink' satellites in different orbital 'shells', providing uninterrupted, high speed data to pretty much anywhere on the planet. But Amazon is not too far behind with its Project Kuiper and some 3,000 satellites, and others like OneWeb and what might eventually be 650 satellites.

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Category: Science