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Satellite Constellations Could Harm the Environment, New Watchdog Report Says

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Do people have a right to an unobstructed view of the heavens? For most of human history, such a question would have been considered nonsensical—but with the recent rise of satellite mega constellations, it’s now being asked again and again. Mega constellations are vast groups of spacecraft, numbering in the thousands, that could spark a multitrillion-dollar orbital industry and transform global connectivity and commerce. But the rise of mega constellations also threatens to clutter the night sky, cripple the work of some astronomers and create space debris that harms people on Earth and in space alike.

In January 2020 Scientific American was the first to report on a paper arguing that such constellations may be effectively unlawful because of environmental legislation enacted more than a half-century ago by the U.S. Congress. Subsequently Congress commissioned a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to weigh the evidence for such claims. Released earlier this month, the report suggests that regulatory action on mega constellations is increasingly…



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