Problems for Elon Musk: 40 of the 49 satellites he just launched into space will be destroyed

FILE - Two satellites China también quiere construir su propia megared. Foto: Patrick Pleul/dpa” height=”1515″ src=”” width=”2048″ />
FILE – Two “Starlink” satellites can be seen as streaks of light in the night sky (taken with a 15-second exposure time). Companies like SpaceX, OneWeb and Amazon are competing to offer the Internet from space. Tens of thousands of satellites are planned to be launched into orbit. For strategic reasons, China also wants to build its own megagrid. Photo: Patrick Pleul/dpa (Patrick Pleul/)

SpaceX confirmed that at least 40 of its 49 satellites star link launched on February 3 will end up destroyed after an intense geomagnetic storm.

the company of Elon Musk said the satellites will burn up in the earth’s atmosphereinstead of entering low Earth orbit to join the constellation of 2,000 satellites star link.

To allay concerns, SpaceX also reported that deorbiting satellites present “zero collision risk” with other satellites, so no part will hit the ground or cause damage.

The 49 Starlink satellites departed from Florida‘s Kennedy Space Center at 18:13 GMT on February 3.

A geomagnetic storm is a large disturbance of the Earth’s magnetosphere, the area around Earth controlled by the planet’s magnetic field.

Two satellites from SpaceX’s Starlink constellation nearly collided with China’s space station under construction earlier this year, according to the Beijing regime. SPACE X (SPACE X/)

“Unfortunately, the satellites deployed on Thursday were affected by a geomagnetic storm on Friday,” SpaceX said.

“These storms cause the atmospheric heating and atmospheric density at our low takeoff altitudes. In fact, on-board GPS suggests that escalating speed and severity of the storm caused atmospheric drag that rose up to 50% from previous releases”, reported the company in a statement.

The Starlink team commanded the satellites into a security mode, where they could plan like sheets of paper, to minimize drag as they sought shelter from the event.

Despite the evasive maneuver, most could not raise their orbit and up to 40 of them “will enter or have already entered the Earth’s atmosphere”.

The company insisted that they represent “zero risk of collision” with other satellites and that they are designed to disintegrate as they re-enter. Debris from these is also not expected to reach the ground.

Although closely monitoring the UK Space Agency also agreed that there was “virtually no risk” on Earth because the satellites are built without dense metals and their structure would have to burn completely.. NASA, for its part, has not commented on the event.

FILE PHOTO: SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks on a screen during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in <a class=Barcelona, ​​Spain June 29, 2021. REUTERS/Nacho Doce” height=”3545″ src=”” width=”5315″ />
FILE PHOTO: SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks on a screen during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, ​​Spain June 29, 2021. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

Starlink is a “constellation” of more than 2,000 satellites and provides coverage in practically the entire planet.

The first batch was launched in May 2019 and SpaceX currently has regulatory approval for the shipment of 12,000 to offer broadband internet and has requested authorization for a second generation constellation of 30,000 satellites.

astronomers have stated concerns about the impact of these satellites on astronomical work in the field because they add a congested spectrum in the Low Earth Orbit (OBT or LEO in English)

There are approximately 4,000 active satellites in that region, which extends up to 1,900 km above the surface. Some 15,000 pieces of debris from objects such as rocket casings or defunct probes are also counted.

For its part, NASA expressed his concern over SpaceX’s plan to deploy some 30,000 satellites for its star linkLike some big companies.

“NASA has concerns with the potential for a significant increase in the frequency of conjunction events and potential impacts on NASA human spaceflight and science missions”, the agency wrote to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

NASA noted that there are currently a total of 25,000 objects tracked in orbit, and about 6,100 below 600 km. SpaceX’s Gen2 Expansion “it would more than double the number of objects tracked in orbit and quintuple the number of objects below 600 km”he added.

FILE PHOTO: SpaceX's Starlink 5 satellites appear in the sky as seen from Svendborg in South Funen, Denmark April 21, 2020. Ritzau Scanpix/Mads Claus Rasmussen via REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: SpaceX’s Starlink 5 satellites appear in the sky as seen from Svendborg in South Funen, Denmark on April 21, 2020. Ritzau Scanpix/Mads Claus Rasmussen via REUTERS

Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist Jonathan McDowellwhich is part of the panel of the American Astronomical Society which examines the impact of satellites on astronomy said: “We have been concerned about having this large number of satellites interfering with astronomical observations. I believe that we need a little more experience with the several thousand operational satellites before moving on to the tens of thousands”.

amazonwho has agreed to spend at least $10 billion to build 3,236 satellites of this type through its program Project Kuiperseparately raised concerns with the FCC about SpaceX’s plan, as did Dish Network (DISH.O).

Amazon said that under SpaceX’s request “at least hundreds – and potentially more than ten thousand – SpaceX satellites could operate at the same altitudes as the Kuiper System”.

He warned that “the effect of this orbital overlap would be a dramatic increase in risks and other burdens to the Kuiper System” and asked the FCC to impose “reasonable conditions”.

Although extremely expensive to deploy, satellite technology can provide high-speed Internet to people who live in rural or hard-to-reach places that are not reached by fiber optic cables or cell phone towers. The technology could also be a critical support when hurricanes or other natural disasters disrupt communications.

(With information from AFP)


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