Is it a bird, a plane, an alien invasion? A row of 13 lights were spotted in the night sky over Dursley and Stroud last night, prompting some residents to speculate H.G Wells tripods might finally be visiting earth.
But fear not, this train of lights is really part of Elon Musk’s Starlink project – an attempt to beam the internet to Earth from space using thousands of satellites.
U.S-based company SpaceX, which is run by Mr Musk, launched its first satellite in May 2019 and now has 360 in orbit.
When the sun sinks below the horizon, the satellites reflective surfaces appear visible in the night sky.
The company plans to operate between 12,000 and 42,000 satellites, which the BBC reported outshine 99 percent of all other satellites.
Forbes found that astronomers have raised concerns the satellites are obstructing their study of the universe.
Each satellite weighs around 260 kilograms, including four array antennas and ion thrusters using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket.
They are powered using large solar panels and once they reach the end of their life, they use an on-board propulsion system to deorbit, which SpaceX hopes will limit space waste surrounding the earth.
The satellites use debris tracking data from the U.S Department of Defense and autonomously perform maneuvers to avoid collisions.
SpaceX claims they are the only private company capable of returning a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit, and in 2012 one of their spacecrafts became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station.