Elon Musk's satellite internet service has lost up to 40 satellites that have just been launched to a solar storm.
Elon Musk's Starlink satellite internet service has suffered a setback. The company currently believes 40 Starlink satellites were destroyed by a solar storm. This was announced by SpaceX in a press release.
The satellites were launched into orbit by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket just last Friday. Only 9 of the 49 satellites launched that day are likely to have survived the solar storm.
High Air Resistance Causes Satellites To Crash
The storm has "up to 50 percent more drag than previous launches," SpaceX said. This prevented the satellites from reaching their intended orbit around the Earth.
According to its own statements, SpaceX tried to fly the satellites in such a way that their air resistance was reduced. However, this maneuver was unsuccessful. Preliminary analyzes would show that as many as 40 satellites will miss their target position in Earth orbit and will instead re-enter the atmosphere, or have already done so.
SpaceX is in close cooperation with the US space agency Space Force and has the situation under control. According to the company, the free-floating satellites pose no danger to other satellites or the earth. There is no debris that increases the risk of collision with other objects in orbit, nor debris that could reach the earth. SpaceX promises that any part of the satellite will burn up when it enters the atmosphere.
How Solar Flares Affect Satellites
Solar flares often disrupt modern technology on Earth. During an eruption, the sun emits particles that disrupt the Earth's magnetic field and heat the atmosphere through increased radiation. As a result, the atmospheric density increases, and objects in orbit, such as satellites, face more drag. You slow down. In extreme cases, satellites can eventually crash in the course of such a solar storm.
SpaceX recently surpassed the milestone of 2,000 satellite launches, as reported by future zone. Musk's company plans to launch 12,000 more if not more to create a global satellite internet network. 40 satellites is therefore not a significant loss on the whole but show how problematic solar storms can be for space travel.