Residents across Northern Tasmania looking skyward on Saturday night may have been lucky enough to witness a rare sight.
A string of mysterious lights twinkling in the night sky caused many in the region to pull out their phones and jump onto social media to find an explanation for what many saw as an other-worldly phenomenon.
The grouping of lights has been identified as a new batch of satellites launched by US-based SpaceX as part of their Starlink project. Batches of satellites launched by the company have been sighted making their way into orbit all around the world, since SpaceX first began the project in 2019.
According to a Facebook post by Australian Meteor Reports, the satellite train was one of the latest batches launched by the company and was made up of more than 50 individual satellites.
The cluster passed over the Bass Strait around 9:30pm on Friday last night, providing a light show for spectators in Tasmania and Victoria. Stargazers in the North of the state witnessed particularly good visibility due to low levels of cloud cover and light pollution on Saturday night.
The aim of the project is to provide "high-speed, low-latency" broadband internet across the globe. The project is considered one of SpaceX's more commercial ventures and is intended to help fund the company's first sojourn to Mars. To date, SpaceX has launched more than 2000 satellites into space as part of the Starlink project and Beta testing programs are currently running in 25 countries around the world.
It's hoped that the service will be particularly beneficial to low-population and rural communities, where direct access to high-speed internet is limited.
In an update by the company last week, SpaceX noted it has the capacity to build up to 45 satellites per week, and launch up to 240 satellites in a single month.
While some have raised concerns around the volume of material the company is launching into orbit, SpaceX maintains that the low-orbit satellites are designed to " decline as they reenter the Earth's atmosphere". To date, the company has retired around 200 satellites during re-entry.
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