SpaceX Loses Batch of Starlink Satellites Due to Geomagnetic Storm

After SpaceX launched 49 Starlink satellites last week, the company has reported a geomagnetic storm that’s threatening the newly-orbiting satellites.

SpaceX’s 49 Starlink satellites launched on February 3 were affected by a geomagnetic storm, according to the company’s website.

In a statement, SpaceX said, “These storms cause the atmosphere to warm and atmospheric density at our low deployment altitudes to increase.” SpaceX continued, “In fact, onboard GPS suggests the escalation speed and severity of the storm caused atmospheric drag to increase up to 50 percent higher than during previous launches.”

In response to the issue, SpaceX said it “commanded the satellites into a safe mode,” causing the orbital crafts to fly edge-on to minimize drag and effectively “take cover from the storm.”

Early analyses of the maneuver show that the increased drag at lower altitudes stopped the satellites from leaving safe mode, with as many as 40 of them expected to enter or re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.

As a result, SpaceX explained, the deorbiting satellites won’t threaten collision with other satellites, nor will it create any orbital debris or satellite parts hitting the ground.

Earlier this week, it was discovered that SpaceX is renaming the Dragon recovery ships to honor two of the company’s female astronauts.