SpaceX loses satellites in a geomagnetic storm

SpaceX lost some 40 out of 49 Starlink Internet satellites launched last week, due to a geomagnetic storm. Unable to reach their intended orbit, the satellites are reentering the Earth’s atmosphere; the company argues there are no risks for satellite parts to hit the ground or collide with other satellites. 


Image: A SpaceX rocket launches 49 Starlink internet satellites into orbit on 3 February, 2022. Photo credit: SpaceX


So far SpaceX has launched over 2,000 Starlink satellites as part of its goal to provide ‘high-speed, low-latency broadband internet across the globe’. While efforts to connect the unconnected are commendable, satellite constellations raise many concerns. NASA, for instance, is worried about collisions with other spacecraft and potential disruptions to missions to the International Space Station. And the International Astronomical Union launched a centre dedicated to ‘mitigating the negative impact of satellite constellations on ground-based optical and radio astronomy observations as well as humanity’s enjoyment of the night sky’.