StarLink Satellites Pass Over Dallas


StarLink satellites, which were visible in North Texas earlier this week. | Image by 5 NBC DFW

If you were watching the sky last Monday night in Dallas, you may have noticed orbs of light moving across North Texas. Days earlier, these same orbs passed over Central Texas, forming a peculiar row of lights resembling a man-made constellation. Despite their strange formation, these lights are not UFOs, but rather a set of satellites part of Space X’s Starlink program.

54 additional Starlink satellites joined the current fleet of 3,000 last weekend, with a launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida Sunday. The satellites were launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which was delayed for five consecutive days due to weather. It is not clear if the same satellites launched on Sunday were the ones seen above North Texas.

Starlink, developed by Elon Musk’s Space X venture, aims to give people access to the internet all around the world. Starlink services areas that would normally not be able to connect to regular satellite service, such as rural Central Texas settlements.

Most broadband satellites orbit the planet at a distance of 35,786 kilometers. The time it takes for the satellite to communicate with a router, also known as latency, is high with this type of technology.

Starlink instead orbits at a height of only 550 kilometers and covers much more territory with the ever-growing fleet sponsored by SpaceX. By eliminating much of the distance, Starlink satellites have much lower latency and can provide internet to very sparsely populated areas.

Recently, Starlink provided previously impossible high-speed internet access to rural Cameron County in South Texas. “I am very grateful to SpaceX and look forward to having accessibility in the near future for all those areas in Precinct 1 that are eager to have connectivity,” said Cameron County Commissioner for Precinct 1, Sofia C. Benavides.             

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