SpaceX's Starlink network launched last month and will soon provide affordable high-speed internet to people around the globe. But this achievement might cost us big time when it comes to space and astronomy, according to experts.

The American Astronomical Society has released a statement after 60 Starlink satellites were brought to low Earth orbit (LEO) by Elon Musk's SpaceX. The members of the organization highlighted the possible negative effects of having tens of thousands of satellites orbiting Earth and dotting the night sky.

Among those they mentioned were "significant disruption of optical and near-infrared observations by direct detection of satellites in reflected and emitted light; contamination of radio astronomical observations by electromagnetic radiation in satellite communication bands; and collision with space-based observatories."

According to the statement, the organization is already studying the possible effects of the satellite on space studies while SpaceX and other companies have yet to launch more satellites.

The astronomers may need to ramp up the studies as SpaceX hopes to have up to 12,000 interconnected Starlink satellites in the future. And Musk's company is not alone in this endeavor, for others are also joining the satellite race, including Space Norway, OneWeb and Telesat.

After the Starlink satellites' May 23 launch, concerns arose that they would soon outnumber the stars in the sky as well as contribute to light pollution. However, Musk posted on Twitter on May 27 that Starlink will have "[zero percent] impact on advancements in astronomy.”

Musk followed this up with another tweet saying that he and the Starlink team are working on reducing the reflectivity of the satellites. However, he appears to have no plans to halt the Starlink project as he wrote, “potentially helping billions of economically disadvantaged people is the greater good.”

While Musk appears to be confident in Starlink's role in the world's future, other experts have also chimed in on the issue, stating their agreement with the AAS' concerns.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told Gizmodo via email that he believes Starlink and other megaconstellations will inevitably affect different kinds of astronomy.

“Eventually there WILL be one which has disastrous effects on astronomy and on the night sky,” he said. “Starlink was a good wakeup call in that respect.”

A SpaceX Starlink satellite
A SpaceX Starlink satellite in orbit (illustration) SpaceX