written by sean holilster, on february 8th, 2022

what: a geomagnetic storm may have doomed 40 of the 49 starlink satellites launched february 3, 2022.
why: the storm caused “up to 50 percent higher drag than during previous launches,” keeping the deployed satellites from reaching their proper orbit around the earth.
when: satellite failure on february 4, 2022
where: in low-earth orbit before reaching full orbit altitude
how: starlink tried to fly them “edge-on (like a sheet of paper)” to reduce that drag, it now looks like as many as 40 of them will burn up in the earth’s atmosphere instead of reaching their destinations.

interesting fact: preliminary analysis show the increased drag at the low altitudes prevented the satellites from leaving safe-mode to begin orbit raising maneuvers, and up to 40 of the satellites will reenter or already have reentered the earth’s atmosphere. the deorbiting satellites pose zero collision risk with other satellites and by design demise upon atmospheric reentry—meaning no orbital debris is created and no satellite parts 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. (8th paragraph from article) 

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