Calls for regulation over fears 30k new satellites will change our view of night sky

The race is on to preserve our night sky as space traffic increases, and space experts are calling for greater regulation.

A surge in satellite launches will illuminate Earth's view of the universe, with no end in sight.

"There's been a real shift in the number of satellites that are visible to the naked eye, and this is going to continue to pick up," Canterbury University astronomer Michele Bannister says.

Elon Musk's SpaceX subsidiary, Starlink, aims to launch up to 30,000 satellites.

"They launch 60 at a time, and you get this kind of river of light of moving dots across the sky," Bannister says.

And that's just one company.

Satellites provide critical services to Earth, including the internet and GPS systems - but a lack of regulation is causing concern.

"It's going to completely change aspects of the way you see the sky," Bannister says. "Instead of looking at the sky and you see the whole universe, you'll be seeing a whole pile of things that people have made."

Kiwis may see more satellites because New Zealand sits at a slightly higher latitude to much of the world.

The Government's Space Agency is already party to four United Nations space treaties, but experts here believe the global conversation needs to go further.

"It's something that we should be concerned about, we should be having a conversation about how we want the sky to look," Bannister says.

"We are trying to do our bit to get the whole world to come together and agree on a set of regulations, to make sure we are good custodians of the orbit and the space around us for the future - tidy or chop up," Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck says.

Rocket Lab launches from Mahia Peninsula because of its uncluttered launch windows, which could become less frequent with increased space traffic.

"Unfortunately what will need to happen is we'll need to have a few more near misses to get it on the top of people's radars," Beck says.

"It will be a solved problem but it is going to take time to get a set of regulations that people can work with."