pwnies t1_j5ricq1 wrote

First, this is a perfect example of a slippery slope fallacy in place. "Satellite infrastructure will lead to less concerns about strip mining" is an unfounded premise.

Second, scientists are actively telling us overfishing/single-use plastics/strip mining are disasters in progress, but scientists aren't saying the same thing about swam sats.

Bruce Macintosh, director of the University of California Observatories, has said this about Starlink:

> For astronomers I think this is more of a nuisance than a disaster, but changing the sky for every human needs talking about.

Optical telescopes can filter out the light flares these small satellites leave easily. The larger impact is likely radio telescopes which are more heavily affected, but even these can be mitigated if scientists know the parameters of them. Quote from a nat geo article on this:

> “As a general principle, radio astronomy facilities are particularly vulnerable to satellite downlinks and to airborne uses, as radio telescopes cannot be protected from high-altitude transmissions through geographical shielding alone,” says Indiana University’s Liese van Zee, chair of the National Academy of Science’s Committee on Radio Frequencies, or CORF. She says it is CORF’s understanding that a coordination agreement with Starlink is currently in the works, and that historically such agreements have balanced the interests of science and telecom companies.

> Both SpaceX and OneWeb—another company with plans to launch a fleet of communications satellites—have been working out such details with the National Science Foundation and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, adds Harvey Liszt of the NRAO.

There is value in this infrastructure that humanity benefits from. It clearly isn't a disaster according to those in the know. Overall I see satellites as being a net benefit rather than a detriment to humanity.


pwnies t1_j5rffvc wrote

Fiber lines are better for throughput, but are significantly more expensive. We have recent data from Australia's attempt to install fiber nationwide as a good comparison point of costs.

Australia estimated 14-15b AUD (about 10.5b USD) to run fiber to 98% of the country's population (though this would encompass < 10% of the landmass). Fiber is a mature technology, so we should expect these costs to be fairly static.

Starlink's investment costs so far have been 10b to design and launch, but also provide coverage nearly worldwide. Swarm satellites are a fairly new tech for internet infrastructure, so we should expect the cost to decrease over time.

Overall for delivering internet worldwide, a swam satellite based approach is far cheaper (though will provide less throughput). For getting internet to those in developing or remote countries, it's an excellent choice overall.


pwnies t1_j5mjmzs wrote

Don't get me wrong, I’m not a fan of Elon, but IMO the functionality of swam sats outweighs the downsides of the light pollution they cause. Software filtering can provide solutions to telescope captures, but there's little that can provide internet access in the same way worldwide.

If we want cheap and accessible information worldwide, satellites are the best solution to that problem.