SpaceX is launching another pack of Starlink satellites into orbit at 9:25PM Eastern (weather permitting), but this won’t be a typical mission. As TechCrunch explains, one of the 60 internet satellites in the bunch will test a sun visor that should make the vehicles less of a nuisance in the night sky. If the design succeeds in cutting back on reflected light, it could become a staple for Starlink satellites going forward.
The company is aiming for a total of up to two dozen Starlink launches by the end of 2020. If all goes well, this would enable a beta internet service in Canada and the US, with a larger international rollout sometime in 2021 or 2022.
Elon Musk’s outfit might have to deploy the sun visor to make that happen. Astronomers and amateur skywatchers alike have complained that reflections from Starlink craft are affecting their view of space, and this could only get worse when SpaceX has tens of thousands more satellites to deploy. The visor could reassure the public that Starlink won’t be too disruptive when it’s completely ready.