A gust of wind knocked out 40 American satellites

2022-06-20 0 By

This article was transferred from;About 40 SpaceX satellites launched on February 3 have either strayed from low Earth orbit or will soon burn up in the atmosphere due to a geomagnetic storm caused by the solar wind, the company said on its website on Tuesday.As the cost of producing Starlink satellites continues to fall, the accident may not be too costly in monetary terms, but it could be a big blow to SpaceX’s Internet constellation ambitions.On the afternoon of February 3, a Falcon 9 rocket lifted 49 Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit from The Kennedy Space Center in Florida, according to information previously released by SpaceX.In hindsight, SpaceX’s statement on the accident revealed that the US Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had issued a geomagnetic storm warning that February 4 could be a “solar storm”.The so-called “solar storm” refers to the solar activity caused by the sun’s upper atmosphere spewed out supersonic plasma charged particles, when it arrives near the Earth, may cause severe global disturbances of the Earth’s magnetic field, also known as geomagnetic storms.But for some unknown reason, the Falcon 9 rocket launched on time, carrying the starlink satellites 210 kilometers into low-Earth orbit.According to the plan, the satellites will need to activate their own Hall thrusters to lift their orbits to an altitude of 540 kilometers.Starlink’s solar wind arrived on time the next day, and a violent geomagnetic storm caused earth’s upper atmosphere to heat up and expand, further densing it.The starlink satellites are said to experience a sharp increase in atmospheric drag, 50 percent more than before geomagnetic storms.Despite SpaceX’s efforts to reduce atmospheric drag and avoid magnetic storms, the final analysis showed that only nine of the starlink satellites were working properly. The remaining 40 had already re-entered or were about to re-enter the atmosphere.But SpaceX says the satellites will not threaten other spacecraft in orbit and will burn up completely in the atmosphere.According to a 2020 report by Aviation Week, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the cost of reusing the Falcon 9 rocket would be about $15 million.Musk also suggested that a single Starlink satellite would cost far less than $500,000 to build.So in monetary terms, the direct economic losses caused by the accident are small for the deep-pocketed SpaceX.But the main blow is psychological.SpaceX is said to have chosen to deploy starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit in part to ensure a speedy response in the event of a failure.But it turns out that this orbital design actually makes them more vulnerable to geomagnetic storms.The accident has also heightened concerns about the safety of the Starlink satellite.SpaceX had a total of 1,798 Starlink satellites in orbit by the end of 2021, and launched 989 starlink satellites in 2021 alone, in order to facilitate the rapid construction of the Starlink low-orbit Internet constellation.But the swarms of Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit are raising concerns about possible collisions in space.Last year, China disclosed that the Starlink satellite had come dangerously close to its space station on two occasions.A number of foreign satellites have also actively avoided starlink’s collision.In addition, the project has long been criticized by astronomers because the mass of Starlink satellites tracking through the night sky can disrupt astronomical observations that require long exposures.