Geomagnetic Storm destroys dozens of SpaceX satellites | Tech News

Geomagnetic Storm destroys dozens of SpaceX satellites

Geomagnetic storm destroyed as many 40 of the 49 Starlink low-orbit satellites launched Feb. 3 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

By:BLOOMBERG
| Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 00:02 IST
Geomagnetic storm
Geomagnetic storm caused the affected SpaceX satellites to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up. (REUTERS)

Elon Musk's space venture SpaceX lost dozens of satellites to a storm, destroying the bulk of a recently launched fleet as they fell back toward Earth. As many 40 of the 49 Starlink low-orbit satellites launched Feb. 3 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida were hit by a geomagnetic storm the next day, SpaceX said on its website. 

The affected satellites re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, or are on track to do so, burning up in the process, the company said. That means no orbital debris is created and no parts fall to the ground, SpaceX said. 

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SpaceX said the storm increased the temperature and density of the atmosphere, and was so severe that the drag on the satellites was 50% higher than in previous launches. Efforts to save the satellites by flying them “edge-on” like a sheet of paper -- to avoid the worst of the storm -- failed, the company said.

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What is a geomagnetic storm? A geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of Earth's magnetosphere, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says. They're triggered by sustained and powerful solar winds, producing changes in the currents, plasmas, and fields in the magnetosphere, according to NOAA. 

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First Published Date: 10 Feb, 15:52 IST
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