The powerful geomagnetic storm that hit the earth, without damage, wiped out some Starlink satellites. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s statement detailed the loss of 40 of the 49 satellites that it launched Thursday.
The satellites were launched on February 3 in a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. And they successfully reached low orbit space, 210 kilometers or 130.5 miles above Earth. All the satellites achieved controlled flight.
SpaceX reported that Starlink’s attempts to fly the satellites in “safe mode” did not succeed. And despite attempting to reduce the atmospheric drag caused by the storm they were unable to save the satellites.
Musk described how the “onboard GPS suggests the escalation speed and severity of the storm caused atmospheric drag to increase up to 50 percent higher than during previous launches.”
About 80% of those satellites were “significantly impacted” by a geomagnetic storm Friday, SpaceX said in a statement Tuesday.
Starlink satellites deorbiting
“The deorbiting satellites pose zero collision risk with other satellites and by design demise upon atmospheric reentry—meaning no orbital debris is created and no satellite parts hit the ground,” according to the SpaceX statement.