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SpaceX launches 22 new Starlink satellites

SpaceX Starlink Mission
A view of the SpaceX Starlink Mission in May 2019.

Aerospace manufacturer SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, lit up the sky across the southwestern United States after the launch of 22 satellites into orbit on Monday evening. The satellites were aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California around 7:30 p.m. Monday night.

The rocket’s ascent was visible in many areas of the southwestern United States, including Arizona. 

The first stage of Falcon 9 came back to Earth about 8.5 minutes after liftoff, as planned. It landed on the droneship "Of Course I Still Love You," stationed in the Pacific Ocean.

Connie Walker, scientist at NOIR Lab in Tucson and co-director of the International Astronomical Union Centre for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Sky from Satellite Constellation Interference (IAU CPS), believes Starlink can be very useful in assisting remote, rural communities in Arizona get proper Internet access. 

“It has benefits, especially when you think about the remote areas in terms of education, and maybe if they have any access to health needs, and things like that,” Walker said.

However, the interference that these satellites have with modern astronomy cannot be overlooked.

“Like with any camera when you leave the camera integrating or leave your eye open basically, you don’t see a dot going across the sky you see a streak on your image, and this streak is a loss of data basically, whatever was underneath it is now no longer there,” Walker said regarding the interference. 

Walker also said SpaceX is working to darken the surface of their satellites to reduce interference.

News Science
Jacob Suever joined KJZZ as an intern in January 2024. Suever is currently studying for his bachelor’s degree in sports journalism at Arizona State University. Previously, Suever has interned with PBS NewsHour West as a production intern, as well as with the San Francisco Giants as a scoreboard operator.Suever is currently the broadcast director and play-by-play voice for Phoenix College Athletics, and is aiming to broadcast more than 60 baseball and basketball games this season. Suever, an Atlanta native, has a huge passion for radio broadcasting. He says his inspiration throughout his childhood and early college career has been Steve Holman, radio voice of the Atlanta Hawks.Outside of the arena, Suever is also passionate about his community, and understands the importance that local news can play on the well-being, safety and health of a population.Growing up, Suever had a very unique educational experience. Suever transitioned from Atlanta Public Schools at the elementary level to attend the prestigious Ron Clark Academy, a school that gave Suever the ability to see the world in a different way. By age 14, Suever had traveled to more than 20 states, to five countries and to three continents. To this day, Suever employs some of the techniques he learned in middle school to communicate and connect with others around the globe.Suever hopes to use his opportunity with KJZZ to continue to expand his knowledge as a reporter and use his stories to make a positive impact in the community.