Starlink, the internet service provider from Tesla & SpaceX founder Elon Musk, has apparently lost a number of its satellites following a geomagnetic storm, with around 40 being destroyed.
According to an official blog post, the company stated that around 40 of its 49 Starlink satellites that were launched on 3rd February 2022 have been destroyed because of the geomagnetic storm. This storm has caused “up to 50 percent higher drag than during previous launches,” which prevented the newly launched satellites from reaching their optimal orbit around the Earth. Despite Starlink’s best efforts of reducing damages, 40 of the satellites ended up burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere and were unable to reach their proper destination.
For those unaware, SpaceX’s ISP unit had recently announced that it has sent more than 2,000 satellites and had planned to launch over 12,000 more. So while the loss of 40 might not impact the overall figure, it is still quite an expensive loss, with almost all of the Falcon 9 rocket’s payload being destroyed. Interestingly, the company took this chance to also showcase the minute impact that its satellites cause in the skies.
Space debris and clutter has been a growing concern in recent years, with Starlink’s satellites also facing criticism due to plans to launch thousands of satellites. Apart from this, astronomers had also called out the brand for disrupting images of the night sky since these satellite end up leaving streaks across space images. This means that it is harder for astronomers to detect possibly dangerous asteroids.