40 SpaceX satellites lost to geomagnetic storm

Satellite operator SpaceX is set to lose 40 out of the 49 satellites it launched last week. 

The Elon Musk-founded company launched the satellites into low-Earth orbit on February 3 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. However, as the result of a geomagnetic storm, 80% of them are now expected to burn up and fail to reach orbit. 

To date, SpaceX has launched 2,000 Starlink satellites, with the US authorities granting it permission to send up to 12,000 in total.

In a statement, the company said: “Unfortunately, the satellites deployed on Thursday were significantly impacted by a geomagnetic storm on Friday. These storms cause the atmosphere to warm and atmospheric density at our low deployment altitudes to increase. In fact, onboard GPS suggests the escalation speed and severity of the storm caused atmospheric drag to increase up to 50% higher than during previous launches.”

While the satellites will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they are designed to disintegrate upon re-entry “meaning no orbital debris is created and no satellite parts hit the ground”.

Tags: SpaceX

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