Starlink, a satellite constellation operated by SpaceX, lost 212 satellites in the period spanning July 18th and September 18th, according to data compiled by satellitemap.space. This represents a significant increase in the number of Starlink satellites that have burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere in recent months.
It is unclear whether these satellites were scheduled to de-orbit or whether the burn-ups were a result of a failure. SpaceX has not responded to requests for comment.
Some experts have questioned the accuracy of the numbers posted on the satellitemap.space website, saying they appeared to be unusually high. However, satellitemap.space says its data is based on public tracking information published on space-track.org and elsewhere.
Starlink satellites are designed to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere at the end of their life cycle, which is approximately five years. However, satellites can also be vulnerable to electromagnetic storms, which can cause them to de-orbit prematurely.
In February 2022, SpaceX lost 40 new Starlink satellites shortly after launch due to an electromagnetic storm. This event caused the company an estimated $100 million in damages.
The loss of over 200 Starlink satellites in two months is a major setback for SpaceX. It is unclear what impact this will have on the company’s plans to provide global internet coverage.
Here are some additional details about the Starlink satellite constellation:
- Starlink is a network of thousands of small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO).
- The constellation is designed to provide global internet access, with a focus on rural and underserved areas.
- SpaceX has launched over 5,000 Starlink satellites to date, and plans to launch many more in the coming years.
- Starlink is currently in beta testing, and is expected to become fully operational in 2023.
The loss of over 200 Starlink satellites is a reminder of the challenges involved in operating a large satellite constellation. SpaceX will need to address these challenges if it wants to achieve its goal of providing global internet coverage.