UPLINK: 2020-04-23 Starlink zips over the UK but where is it leading?

Last night I watched the Starlink rocket pass overhead. What a sight that was. It took 22 minutes to pass from Florida to the UK. That's pretty astounding and it was awe inspiring to watch. By the time it got to the UK it was pretty small, it looked a bit like a plane, but it was pretty obvious it wasn't. We were lucky that it was a beautiful and clear night. It was dusk and blue hour, which made it a really perfect sight. It passed by in around 30 seconds, carved a perfect line through the sky and was incredibly bright. Then it was gone.

I've only just started to learn about Starlink since seeing these satellites pass over the past few months. It's very weird and quite eerie to witness. I get that there are already satellites up there, but seeing these is a little bit bizarre. Maybe because we are locked down that I feel this way. Standing in my garden looking up at this SpaceX rocket racing across the sky made me wonder what it's all about. I heard a couple of people down the road let out a bit of a cheer, but wonder what it is exactly they are cheering for. Why do we need this tech in our lives? I haven't researched it that much, but its to provide a global internet coverage, especially for rural areas. I get why that could be a good thing, but it just sits uneasy with me, having an American megacorp launching so many of these so rapidly into space. Here's a few reasons why:

  • Space junk - just how much do we want to create up there, storing potential problems? I think these are set to burn themselves up after use, but still we are sending a load of crap up into space
  • Privacy - Do we really need a global always on Skynet? More tracking, more ways for governments to spy on individuals.
  • Astronomy - There are serious concerns from astronomers on earth that all this crap in the sky will prevent them from discovering new wonders of our universe.
  • Control of information - the current internet is kind of democratised even now. That's becoming less so every day, but having a single corp controlling the global internet is not the kind of model I think is healthy for a democratic species.

As I said, I haven't done that much research on what Musk is planning, it just doesn't sit comfortably with me at all.

Further thoughts for me - how are Musk, Telsa, SpaceX and the US government linked? There is clearly more than just a private venture at stake here. Is Musk just some sort of front man for the US government? I'm sure the NSA would love a piece of all of the car telemetry and certainly they are involved in Starlink.

All in all, it was a pretty historic thing to see launch from my back garden, but as tech accelerates beyond control makes me wonder how what I will think of that moment in 20 years' time.

/Uplink


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