40 Starlink satellites launched from Space Coast to reenter atmosphere following geomagnetic storm

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Up to 40 Starlink satellites will reenter or have already reentered the Earth’s atmosphere following a geomagnetic storm, according to SpaceX officials.


The satellites were among 49 launched on a Falcon 9 rocket to low-Earth orbit from Kennedy Space Center last week.

“SpaceX deploys its satellites into these lower obits so that in the very rare case any satellite does not pass initial system checkouts it will quickly be deorbited by atmospheric drag,” the company said. “While the low deployment altitude requires more capable satellites at a considerable cost to us, it’s the right thing to do to maintain a sustainable space environment.”

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The satellites deployed on Thursday were significantly impacted by a geomagnetic storm on Friday, which caused the atmosphere to warm and atmospheric density at the low deployment altitude to increase, SpaceX said.

Preliminary analysis shows the increased drag of the low altitudes prevented the satellites from leaving safe mode to begin orbit-raising maneuvers, SpaceX said.

WATCH: SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center

The deorbiting satellites pose zero collision risk with other satellites, according to SpaceX. No orbital debris will be created and no satellite parts will hit the ground.

“This unique situation demonstrates the great lengths the Starlink team has gone to ensure the system is on the leading edge of on-orbit debris mitigation,” SpaceX said.

WATCH: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from Space Coast following several delays

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.