SpaceX suffers the loss of losing Starlink’s 40 satellites out of 49 due to a geomagnetic storm.
- The satellites were unable to reach their orbital location on Friday because of the said geomagnetic storm.
- On Thursday, SpaceX launched 49 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit using a Falcon 9 rocket.
A geomagnetic storm that occurred a day after the launch had a devastating effect on the satellites, resulting in the satellites re-entering Earth.
The geomagnetic storm a day later raised the density of the atmosphere somewhat increasing the drag on the satellites and unfortunately resulting in losing the satellites.
According to SpaceX, the storm’s speed and intensity increased “atmospheric drag” to levels 50 percent higher
prior to launches, making it more difficult for satellites to achieve their orbital position.
“Preliminary analysis show the increased drag at the low altitudes prevented the satellite from leaving
safe mode to begin orbit-raising maneuvers, and up to 40 of the satellites will reenter or already have
reentered the Earth’s atmosphere,” wrote SpaceX.
Disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field and charged particles from the sun, known as the solar wind,
consequently, cause geomagnetic storms.
According to SpaceX, the Starlink crew attempted to salvage the recently deployed satellites by putting them in safe mode,
which consequently,regulates their motion so that they fly edge on like a sheet of paper, thereby reducing drag.
“The deorbiting satellites pose zero collision risk with other satellites and by design demise upon atmospheric no orbital debris is created and no satellite parts hit the ground,” said SpaceX
Since 2019, SpaceX has been launching fleets of Starlink satellites, sometimes as many as 60 at a time,
in order to establish a megaconstellation in orbit that might eventually reach 42,000 satellites.
According to SpaceX, the initiative aims to provide high-speed internet connection
to consumers everywhere on Earth, particularly in distant or underserved locations.
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