9 June 2020

Impacts of Large Satellite Constellations on Astronomy: Live Updates

Kelsie Krafton American Astronomical Society (AAS)

String of Pearls: A train of SpaceX Starlink satellites is seen in the night sky in this still from a video captured by satellite tracker Marco Langbroek in Leiden, the Netherlands on May 24, 2019, just one day after SpaceX launched its first 60-satellite batch of Starlink internet communications satellites into orbit. If you have questions about the impact of satellite constellations on astronomy, AAS's Public Policy Department (AASPPD) will be publishing updates on this page from now on. Many of our efforts are done in collaboration with the IAU as part of an AAS/IAU Satellite Constellation Working Group (SCWG). 

Updates from the AAS

June 2020:

  • Members of the SCWG presented at AAS 236 during a press conference and a plenary session. If you registered for AAS 236, you can use your login to watch sessions posted on our site, and in about six months they will be made available to the public (around the time of AAS 237). Members of the SCWG will present to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Space Studies Board (SSB) and Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) at the 2020 Joint Meeting of the ASEB and the SSB,  to be held virtually this year from Monday, 8 June to Thursday, June 11. The SCWG is organizing a technical workshop for 29 June to 2 July. 

May 2020:

  • AASPPD establishes this webpage to help keep the community better informed. AASPPD co-hosted a webinar with the Satellite Industry Association (SIA) aimed at informing the satellite industry of the impacts satellite constellations have on the astronomical sciences. 

April 2020:

  • The Editor of AAS Nova, Susanna Kohler, published a summary of Jonathan McDowell's ApJL paper on satellite constellations. AASPPD has a call with the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) to discuss our approach to the satellite constellation problem. Members of SCWG and SpaceX present to the Astro2020 Subcommittee on Satellite MegaConstellations

March 2020:

  • The AASPPD has an informational meeting with the FAA to be more educated on some of the technical aspects of satellite constellations.  The AASPPD co-hosted an informational Hill briefing on satellite constellations with our Hill briefing series partner, Smithsonian.

February 2020:

  • The AASPPD is contacted by lawyers and the NRDC to discuss satellite constellations and environmental law. 

January 2020:

  • At AAS 235, AASPPD had an in-person meeting with the Committee on Astronomy and Public Policy during which we discussed our strategy for addressing the impacts of satellite constellations. Also at AAS 235, there was a press conference with members of the SCWG titled "Astronomy Confronts Satellite Constellations", the recording of which is posted under Archived Presentations. Additionally, members of the SCWG and Patricia Cooper of SpaceX sat on a panel for a special session titled "Challenges to Astronomy from Satellites". Then NSF Director, France Cordova, brought up the impacts of constellation satellites on astronomy during a Congressional hearing. AASPPD meets with the Office of Space Commerce to discuss the impacts of satellite constellations on astronomy. The SCWG has our first meeting with OneWeb. Pat Seitzer (MSU, member of SCWG) presents on to the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee.

December 2019:

November 2019:

  • The APPD updates Congressional staffers on satellite constellations. 

October 2019:

  • The SCWG hosts a call with ground-based OIR observatory directors to discuss impacts from satellite constellations. AASPPD discusses increasing concerns around satellite constellations with Congressional staffers. The AAS Light Pollution, Radio Interference, and Space Debris (LPRISD) Committee invited abstracts for the Special Session "Challenges to Astronomy from Satellites" (formerly "Threats to Astronomy from Lighting and Satellites") which was held on 8 January 2020 at the 235th AAS meeting in Honolulu. The Pentagon laid out a five-year draft budget for the Space Development Agency (SDA), which included plans for fiscal years (FY) 2021 to 2025 for research, development, prototyping, testing and deployment of large constellations of satellites for military use. Virgin Space and Firefly Aerospace give a Congressional briefing on the small satellites launch industry. 

September 2019:

  • Sixth call between SCWG and SpaceX. ExoAnalytic Solutions gives a Congressional briefing on space debris. 

August 2019:

  • AASPPD discusses satellite constellations with the National Space Council and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. 

Updates from Others

May 2020:

April 2020:

March 2020:

February 2020:

  •  A report by the Institut Montaigne (a French think tank) recommends the European Union write policy governing broadband satellite constellations.

December 2019:

  • ESO makes a statement on satellite constellations 

October 2019:

  • OneWeb submits a letter to the FCC in opposition of SpaceX's applications to expand their Starlink constellation. One week later SpaceX submitted its own letter to the FCC. 

September 2019: 

  • Amazon's Kuiper satellite constellation submits a letter to the FCC

July 2019:

November 2018:


News Articles

Social Media Updates

Upcoming Events

TODAY: Astro2020 meeting on radio frequency interference

Participate in a long-term citizen science project to photographically track the population growth of satellites constellations over time. 

If you are interested in just tracking Starlinks on your own with your phone, Pat Seitzer has instructions to accompany this set of coordinates (link changes with each launch). 

June 2020: A technical workshop on problems and solutions. Also NSF's Spectrum Innovation Initiative: National Center for Wireless Spectrum Research (SII-Center) has issued a call for proposals due June 12. 

Archived Presentations