April 17, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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SpaceX had to remove a hundred satellites from space due to an error

SpaceX had to remove a hundred satellites from space due to an error

Starlink made a design error with its satellites and has to remove them from space. Fortunately, this is not about all 5,000+ satellites, but rather about 100 of Starlink's first generation satellites. There is work to be done for SpaceX, also owned by Elon Musk, which ensures satellites reach space, but are also picked up again.

42,000 Starlink satellites

SpaceX has spent the past few years putting more than 5,000 Starlink satellites into space, among other things. It's a small fraction of the 42,000 (!) pieces Elon Musk actually wants to send into space. But now their number is smaller again, because a hundred of the existing satellites have to be removed from space.

Starlink satellites are placed in space at an altitude of 600 kilometers above the Earth's surface. It is normal for the atmosphere to remove satellites from their orbit around the Earth after five years. SpaceX is constantly checking existing satellites, to make sure they don't end up in a critical situation where they can no longer be moved. Good to know: If SpaceX misses one for any reason, there will be no risk to us on Earth. Satellites burn up completely as they land, long before they hit land or sea.

Controlled destruction

So far, 406 satellites have been “landed” in a controlled manner. Unfortunately, 17 pieces ended up in this unstable position, meaning they could not be moved. In the coming weeks and months, SpaceX must perform several controlled landings, as 100 early Starlink satellites must be de-orbited. Although they are still perfectly transportable, a defect has been discovered in those satellites that will cause them problems in the future.

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SpaceX will communicate with authorities before deorbiting satellites to ensure it all happens safely. In any case, Starlink Internet users (after all, that's what those satellites are about) shouldn't notice that another 100 of them are gone, when many of them are already burning up naturally. SpaceX can build 55 satellites a day and launch 200 a month, so replacements will soon be in the air. However, it is unfortunate that many additional satellites have become worthless due to an error.