From: JustSpace Alliance
Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Hello JustSpace Allies! Wherever our newsletter finds you, we hope that you and your community are safe, and that you find a moment to look up to the skies.
We have completed our elections for our new 2020 Board of Directors, and are pleased to report that our Board has grown from five inaugural members to 14 members. Our Board members bring a broad range of expertise to our organization, including anthropology, archaeology, activism, and astrophysics… and that’s just the “A”s! You can meet our Board members on our website.
Our co-founders, Lucianne Walkowicz and Erika Nesvold, were interviewed by Alberto Lidji for the Do One Better podcast, which features philanthropists and social entrepreneurs discussing their work. We chatted about medical ethics, environmental conservation, colonialism, and more. You can listen to this episode and read more on the Do One Better website.
SpaceX recently began launching the first of what they hope will be thousands of small telecommunications satellites into Earth orbit. The company hopes this constellation of satellites, which they call Starlink, will allow them to provide (read: sell) internet access to remote areas of the planet. But astronomers have complained that these bright satellites are disrupting their telescope observations, leaving streaks across their images of the sky. Others worry that adding tens of thousands of new satellites to Earth orbit will increase our risk of orbital debris.
This is a clear example of a scenario where multiple conflicting interests on Earth are coming to a head in space: Astronomers want to protect their science, starwatchers want an unpolluted view of the night sky, SpaceX wants access to an untapped customer base, and residents of rural areas want the ability to access the internet. Vox has a great introduction to this issue, including perspectives from astronomers and examples of how the satellites are contaminating telescope observations of the night sky.
While the Starlink satellites were approved by the FCC, the U.S. agency responsible for regulating the operation of American satellites, it’s unclearwhether this approval included a consideration of the environmental impact, as required by law. Even if the FCC approval of the Starlink constellation is ultimately determined to be legal under U.S. law, some are concerned by the scenario in which a single country, company, or individual can change the appearance of the night sky for the entire sighted population of the Earth.
The Starlink controversy is one of a growing number of conflicts about how we should interact with the environment beyond the surface of the Earth. In this 2013 piece, JustSpace board member Alice Gorman argued that the space industry needs to consider the effects of their actions on the space environment, and abandon the anthropocentric perspective that has already caused so much damage to our planet.
If you’d like to learn more about the JustSpace Alliance and join in the discussion, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. You can also visit our website for more information and resources, and encourage friends and colleagues to subscribe to our newsletter here.
Our website now includes a Donation page where you can contribute financially to the JustSpace Alliance’s mission. JustSpace is a U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so your donations are tax-deductible.
If you’ve read or written a piece that you think we should include in a future newsletter, please send us a link at email@example.com.
// end //