About 63 years ago, almost no one on Earth thought about the number of artificial satellites that will orbit our Planet. On 4 October 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, into orbit around the Earth. This is considered to be the beginning of the space age. Before this date there were no man made satellites in space but on every single day since then there have been artificial satellites around the Earth. Today there are over 6000 active satellites in orbit (Union of Concerned Scientists 2020) and many times that number of defunct ones. From debris, to rocket bodies, to satellites, you’ll wonder how astronomers can peer out of the ball of yarn surrounding our little blue marble.
Thanks to Stuff-in-Space, a real-time, 3D visualization, you can view all of these objects orbiting Earth. The brainchild of James Yoder, Electrical and Computer Engineering student at the University of Texas at Austin, Stuff-in-Space is an easy-to-use interactive visualization tool that updates daily with orbit data from Space-Track. You can zoom in and out, rotate the Earth and its satellites around. Pick any one object and discover more information about it. Or just leave it running and watch all the objects buzz around in real time. Humans have been busy launching a lot of stuff, and it’s only going to increase.
Tap the Link and See for yourself. (Warning this site may keep you occupied for hours.)
What about Starlink?
Starlink is the name of a satellite network being developed by SpaceX, a private spaceflight company, to provide low-cost internet to remote areas. While SpaceX hopes to have as many as 42,000 satellites in this so-called megaconstellation, the project’s scale and scope has alarmed astronomers and amateur skywatchers, who are concerned that the bright, orbiting objects will obstruct observations of the Universe.
How many of them are already in Earth’s orbit? SpaceX now has 1,200 Starlink satellites in orbit, having launched 310 of them this year alone. Five of SpaceX’s seven Falcon 9 missions in 2021 have been dedicated for Starlink, with the other two launching Transporter-1 and the Turksat 5A geostationary communications satellite. The Transporter-1 launch included 10 Starlink satellites, the first deployed in polar orbit. Thanks to Space-Search.io you can now track them all, as well as all other satellites orbiting the Earth. Тhe interactive map is extremely good – use the buttons to change different types of satellites, camera zoom, turn on animation and even change the color of the graphics.