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SpaceX’s newest fleet of satellites is tumbling out of orbit after being struck by a solar storm.

Up to 40 of the 49 small satellites launched last week have either reentered the atmosphere and burned up, or are on the verge of doing so, the company said in an online update Tuesday night.

SpaceX said a geomagnetic storm last Friday made the atmosphere denser, which increased the drag on the Starlink satellites, effectively dooming them.

Ground controllers tried to save the compact, flat-panel satellites by putting them into a type of hibernation and flying them in a way to minimize drag. But the atmospheric pull was too great, and the satellites failed to awaken and climb to a higher, more stable orbit, according to the company.

SpaceX still has close to 2,000 Starlink satellites orbiting Earth and providing internet service to remote corners of the world. They circle the globe more than 550 kilometres  in altitude.

Source: Toronto Daily Star

Date: February 10th, 2022

Link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/science/spacex-satellites-solar-storm-1.6344938

Discussion

  1. A solar storm wipes out 80% of the new satellites put up to provide low-latency (quick upload and download) internet broadband. Is internet broadband still a good idea?
  2. Why is SpaceX so keen on building out a low-earth-orbit (LEO) low-latency ( quick upload and download) internet broadband system?

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