Hard blow for SpaceX. A magnetic storm prevented nearly 40 satellites launched by the company in early February from repeating their orbits correctly, Elon Musk’s company announced on Tuesday, which said the satellites disintegrated as they re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere. A total of 49 satellites took off on February 3 from Florida aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. They were supposed to be part of the Starlink constellation that was supposed to provide internet from space.
The deployment of this new batch was “significantly affected by a geomagnetic storm on Friday,” SpaceX wrote in a blog post. These events are caused by eruptions on the Sun’s surface, which can cause particles to be ejected all the way to Earth, where they cause a magnetic storm. These storms are particularly the cause of the aurora borealis, but can also disrupt telecommunications.
No risk of collision with other satellites
“These storms heat the atmosphere and increase the atmospheric density at our lower deployment altitudes,” SpaceX said, noting that the satellites were placed in an orbit approaching Earth at an altitude of 210 km or less, at a site where SpaceX conducts checks , before sending his machines higher.
While 40 satellites “will re-enter or have already entered the Earth’s atmosphere”, SpaceX assured that they posed no risk of collision with other satellites (the constellation includes about 1,500 active ones). They are designed to decay in the atmosphere so that “no part of the satellite touches the ground”.