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Starlink internet satellites downed by magnetic storm

by on09 February 2022

The stars are that much clearer

All of the Starlink internet satellites that a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carried beyond the atmosphere on 3 February won't reach their intended orbit.

Apparently, a day after the rocket took off there was a geomagnetic storm that took place a day after the lift-off had a severe impact on the satellites, and up to 40 of them will re-enter or have already entered Earth's atmosphere.

United States Geological Survey describes geomagnetic storms as periods of "rapid magnetic field variation" typically caused by a strong surge of solar winds.

SpaceX explained that its Starlink team tried to save the newly deployed satellites by putting them in safe mode, which adjusts their movement so they'd fly edge on like a sheet of paper, to minimize drag. Unfortunately, the increased drag prevented the satellites from leaving safe mode.

The deorbiting satellites pose no collision risk, SpaceX said, will completely burn up as they re-enter the atmosphere and will create no orbital debris. No satellite parts are expected to hit the ground.

SpaceX has launched over 2,000 Starlink satellites as of January this year for its first-gen constellation. Launches with Starlink satellites as payload have become a routine for the company, and they'll become even more common if it gets approval to form a second constellation with up to 30,000 satellites meant to provide global internet coverage.


Last modified on 09 February 2022
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