WASHINGTON-California’s SpaceXcompany says it will work constructively with the scientific community to fix the brightness of its satellites.

The firm has come under fire for the brilliance of its Starlink spacecraft, which are being launched to deliver broadband to every corner of the globe. One hundred and eighty of the platforms have already been sent to orbit with thousands more to follow. Astronomers fear they will interfere with telescope observations.

But a SpaceX executive told the American Astronomical Society conference in Hawaii on Wednesday that the company was seeking ways to make the platforms much less intrusive.

Patricia Cooper, the firm’s vice president of satellite government affairs, told a specially convened session that delegates’ science was valued and there was no desire to impede it.

The company is experimenting with a new coating that will hopefully reduce the reflectivity of the Starlinks. Of the 60 new satellites sent up on Monday, one in the batch had this corrective paint job.

Detailed coordinates of the spacecraft are also being shared so observations of the sky can be planned to avoid the objects’ passing.

“We don’t know yet if these mitigations are useful and effective. We tend to work very quickly. We tend to test, learn and iterate,” she was reported as saying by the Space News reporter Jeff Foust. Astronomers at the meeting said it would not be before the end of February - when the “dark satellite” had reached its operational orbit - that a proper assessment could be made of the coating experiment. On launch, the Starlinks are released in a train that produces streaks in long exposure images

The AAS has put together a committee to investigate the impact of so-called mega-constellations.

It is not just SpaceX which is rolling out a giant network of satellites. Other companies plan to do the same - some to deliver telecommunications services, others to acquire rapid and repeat imagery of the Earth’s surface.

Prof Patrick Seitzer, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, said everybody had been surprised at the brightness of the Starlinks - including SpaceX.

He listed the difficulties posed to astronomy by their current reflectivity. The Michigan astronomer described how they produced multiple streaks and ‘ghosts’ in telescope pictures, how their brightness could saturate detectors, and generate cross-talk in electronics.

SpaceX may have more than 1,500 Starlinks in orbit by the year’s end, but is proposing an eventual constellation that could grow from 12,000 to more than 40,000.