SpaceX Loses 40 Starlink Satellites to Geomagnetic Storm

Daniel Attoe
Daniel Attoe

Updated · Feb 09, 2022


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The space exploration company said it lost most of the satellite launched last week to a storm before they managed to reach orbit.

Extraterrestial Storm

Most of the Starlink satellites that SpaceX will never reach their intended orbit, the company has announced. The aerospace manufacturer disclosed that a geomagnetic storm occurred a day after the liftoff on the 3rd of February. It had a drastic effect on the fleet, destroying 40 out of 49 satellites.

While explaining how the storm affected the satellites, SpaceX revealed that some have already fallen back to Earth.

“Preliminary analysis show the increased drag at low altitudes prevented the satellites 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,” the company disclosed.

According to the United States Geological Survey, geomagnetic storms are periods of “rapid magnetic field variation”. They are born from surges of solar wind or, on occasion, by the direct linking of the sun’s magnetic field with that of Earth.

Attempts by SpaceX to protect the satellites by placing them in safe mode to minimize the drag did not work.

The satellites will burn up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere and pose no risk of orbital debris.

Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX.

The project aims to provide broadband-speed internet access to most parts of the world. Since the first Falcon 9 rocket liftoff delivered 60 satellites in November 2019, Starlink has deployed more than 2000 satellites into space.

Elon Musk hopes to eventually increase its constellation to 42,000 satellites over the next few decades. 



Daniel Attoe

Daniel Attoe

Daniel is an Economics grad who fell in love with tech. His love for books and reading pushed him into picking up the pen - and keyboard. Also a data analyst, he's taking that leap into data science and machine learning. When not writing or studying, chances are that you'll catch him watching football or face-deep in an epic fantasy novel.

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