This summer, more than 200 satellites of the Internet provider Starlink mysteriously disappeared. Electromagnetic storms are undoubtedly to blame.
This demonstrates the fragility of the constellation, which can number tens of thousands of units within a few years.is in orbit.
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According to the website Satellitemap.space, from July 18 to September 18, 2023, exactly 212 Starlink satellites disappeared. Please note that this data is based on publicly available tracking information. This is not the first time that satellites have stopped showing signs of life, but such a peak is still unprecedented. SpaceX has yet to release this information. What could have happened to them?
First of all, you should know that these satellites are designed in such a way that at the end of their life cycle they burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. It is estimated that this will last about five years, but the very first ones were launched in 2019. The most likely explanation is that they were victims of electromagnetic storms caused by strong solar flares. For example, in February 2022, about forty satellites were lost immediately after launch due to an electromagnetic storm.
As a reminder, SpaceX has already launched more than 4,000 Starlink satellites into low orbit, approximately 550 km altitude, as part of a program that eventually plans to launch more than 40,000. Its ultimate goal is to cover the entire globe and thus be able to offer high-speed Internet connection to anyone, absolutely anywhere, including in the middle of the ocean, in the desert or on the highest peaks of the planet.
Starlink currently has over a million users worldwide, and recently the company can even serve moving vehicles such as cars, vans, and even school buses. The operator even hopes that one day it will be able to provide high-speed and reliable connections on airplanes.