Starlink lost over 200 satellites in two months – tracker data


There’s been an uptick in burned Starlink satellites over the summer, according to satellite tracking data.

Starlink, a satellite constellation operated by aerospace company SpaceX, lost 212 satellites in the period spanning July 18th and September 18th, data compiled by satellitemap.space shows.

Data shows the number of burned-up satellites steadily increasing over the past three years, but a significant spike can be observed starting the month of July.

It’s unclear whether these satellites were scheduled to de-orbit or whether the burn-ups were a result of a failure. Cybernews has reached out to SpaceX for comment but has not received a response.

Some experts questioned the accuracy of numbers posted on the tracker website, saying they appeared to be unusually high. According to satellitemap.space, its data is based on public tracking information published on space-track.org and elsewhere.

Starlink satellites are designed to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere at the end of their life cycle, which is approximately five years.

SpaceX started launching Starlink satellites in 2019. Over 5,000 have been sent into Earth’s lower orbit since then. Of those, about 4,500 are believed to be active.

Satellites can also be vulnerable to electromagnetic storms, with strong solar flares recorded this summer as the sun enters a period of heightened activity.

Destructive solar events have affected Starlink before. In February last year, SpaceX said it lost 40 new satellites shortly after launch because of an electromagnetic storm. When accounting for the rocket launch, it potentially cost the company about $100 million in damages.

Updated on September 20 with additional details on the satellite tracking data source.


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Comments

David J Weary
prefix 9 months ago
They must be using coated silicon devices instead of silica radiation hardened for space applications. Sad to say but all high orbiting space vehicles using silicon will probably fail.
Joe
prefix 9 months ago
Could also be because satellitemap.space gets behind on tracking and frequently updates in batches. The satellites may have burned up months before July but it wasn't updated until then.
Andrew
prefix 9 months ago
The Skylab space station burned in unexpectedly because NASA at the time did not correctly account for expansion and contraction of the atmosphere... could be the same thing caught a bunch of their satellites
Dan
prefix 9 months ago
"When accounting for the rocket launch, it potentially cost the company about $100 million in damages."
What? Loss of 200 from the beginning of the article or 40 you mentioned in the end?
Deng Li
prefix 9 months ago
China is targeting Starlink satellites in LEO with a new weapon system. The country that controls LEO, controls everything below it. Eliminating the Space Shuttle without a heavy lift replacement erased Americas control in Space. What use is a Space Force when the USA has no mechanism to project force into space?
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