“A battle for the sky is raging, and the heavens are losing. Upcoming mega constellations of satellites, designed to blanket Earth orbit in spacecraft beaming high-speed Internet around the world, risk filling the firmament with tens of thousands of moving points of light, forever changing our view of the cosmos. Astronomers who rely on unsullied skies for their profession and members of the general public who enjoy the natural beauty of what lies above stand to lose out. The arrival of such a large number of satellites “has the potential to change our relationship, and our connection, with the universe,” says Ruskin Hartley, executive director of the nonprofit International Dark-Sky Association. But with no binding international laws or regulations in place to protect the night sky, anyone opposing the advancement of mega constellations is surely fighting a losing battle. Right?
A new paper to be published later this year in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law argues that the Federal Communications Commission—the agency responsible for licensing the operation of these constellations in the U.S.—should have considered the impact these satellites would have on the night sky. In ignoring a key piece of federal environmental legislation, the FCC could be sued in a court of law—and lose—potentially halting further launches of mega constellations until a proper review is carried out.”
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