Magnetic Storm Ruins Up to 40 SpaceX Satellites
08:52 GMT 09.02.2022 (Updated: 20:22 GMT 19.10.2022)
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – A magnetic storm prevented up to 40 Starlink internet satellites, launched in early February, from entering orbit, effectively ruining the spacecraft, SpaceX said.
The geomagnetic storm that occurred earlier this month was prompted by a powerful M-class solar flare on 30 January, which lasted for over four hours and was followed by a coronal mass ejection. The satellites were put into a safe-mode flying edge-on "like a sheet of paper" to ensure protection against the storm.
"Preliminary analysis shows the increased drag at the low altitudes prevented the satellites from leaving safe-mode to begin orbit raising manoeuvres, and up to 40 of the satellites will reenter or already have reentered the Earth's atmosphere", the company said in a statement.
The devices are designed to die upon reentering the atmosphere to prevent collisions with other objects in orbit, as well as orbital debris from reaching the Earth.
© AP Photo / John RaouxA SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the 26th batch of approximately 60 satellites for SpaceX's Starlink broadband network lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Tuesday, May 4, 2021.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the 26th batch of approximately 60 satellites for SpaceX's Starlink broadband network lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Tuesday, May 4, 2021.
© AP Photo / John Raoux
Forty-nine Starlink satellites were launched into orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket on 3 February from the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The Starlink project seeks to provide affordable access to broadband internet connection across the world.