40 of 49 Starlink Satellites Launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX Wiped Out by Geomagnetic Storm

SpaceX reported that it has lost 40 Starlink satellites that were launched into orbit last week because of geomagnetic storms. On February 3, 2022, SpeceX launched 49 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit via Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX reported that nearly 80% of those satellites were “significantly impacted” by a geomagnetic storm that occurred on Friday, February 4, 2022.

Disturbances between Earth’s magnetic field and charged particles from the sun known as solar wind cause these geomagnetic storms. The geomagnetic storm’s speed and intensity caused a “atomspheric drag” to rise to levels 50% higher than previous rocket launches according to SpaceX and this made it harder for the satellites to reach their orbital positions. SpaceX tried flying the satellites in “safe-mode” to reduce the atmospheric drag but the satellites were still unable to reach intended destination.

Elon Musk confirmed saying up to 40 of the satellites will renter the Earth’s atmosphere and simply burn up and some have already done so. SpaceX reported that despite the solar wind, the lost satellites will not collide with each other as they deorbit and there will not have any orbital debris either.

So far, SpaceX has launched over 2000 Starlink satellites but only 1900 functioning.

Starlink is a company that provides “high-speed, low-latency broadband internet across the globe. Starlink will use advanced satellites in a low Earth orbit that will enable video calls, online gaming, streaming, and other high data rate activities that historically have not been possible with satellite internet.”

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