Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites caused alarm in northern Greece on Thursday evening as many eye-witnesses recorded what they described as an array of bright UFO’s.
The initially unidentified objects were later revealed to be the Starlink internet satellites that were launched on Tuesday from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Social media users uploaded several videos of the strange lights crossing the Greek skies. Some panicked, understandably believing that they were UFO’s.
Musk, the founder, CEO, and chief designer of SpaceX, sent a full stack of 60 satellites into orbit on Tuesday.
SpaceX launched its massive internet constellation to help provide internet coverage to the world, in particular to those living in remote and rural areas.
To that end, company engineers designed a fleet of flat-paneled broadband satellites to fly over the Earth, beaming down internet coverage to users who can access the service via a compact user terminal.
With Tuesday’s launch success, SpaceX has sent nearly 1,600 Starlink satellites into orbit, including some that are no longer operational.
Starlink service arrives in Greece in 2021
Currently, Starlink is still in its beta-testing phase, with users around the world putting the burgeoning broadband service through its paces. The company has also opened up its website to begin taking preorders, although service won’t begin right away.
SpaceX plans to make its Starlink broadband satellite internet service available in Greece in 2021.
According to reports, the company has reached out to the Hellenic Telecommunications and Posts Commission (EETT) and the Digital Governance Ministry in order to secure the necessary license.
Starlink’s entry into the local internet market is expected to radically change the existing landscape. Outdated infrastructure and low internet speeds still plague large areas of Greece, even in the capital.
Although services are expected to be about 20 percent more expensive, satellite internet would provide 100 percent coverage, with speeds of up to 150MB/s.
Thousands of satellites
Starlink is SpaceX’s plan to build an interconnected internet network with thousands of satellites, designed to deliver high-speed internet to anywhere on the planet. The network is an ambitious endeavor, which SpaceX has said will cost about $10 billion or more to build.
Product development began in 2015. Two prototype test-flight satellites were launched in February 2018. Additional test satellites and 60 operational satellites were deployed in May 2019.
As of September 2020, SpaceX was launching up to 60 satellites at a time, aiming to deploy 1,440 of the 260 kg (570 pound) spacecraft to provide near-global service by late 2021 or 2022.
Concerns were raised about the long-term danger of space debris from placing thousands of satellites above 600 km (370 miles) from the earth, and the negative impact on optical and radio astronomy on Earth.
In response, SpaceX lowered the orbits to 550 km (340 miles) and below, and launched prototype satellites with anti-reflective coating and an experimental sunshade.