Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites are a mystery. More than 270 satellites have burned for unknown reasons since last May. The company remains silent.
The race for supremacy in space is well underway. Entrepreneurs see the next big revolution in the networked satellite business. It is also tempting that satellite-controlled machines will make people’s lives easier in the future. A vision that Elon Musk also shares. Starlink satellites aim to ensure universal Internet connectivity in low Earth orbit. But there seem to be problems. Because more than 60 Musk satellites burn up almost every month.
As the website Satellitemap.space nicely shows, you can explore for yourself exactly where Starlink’s satellites orbit above us. In the little box at the bottom left of the site, you can see in another graphic how many people are active (over 5,000) and how many people have been burned with a green check mark. Interesting detail on the side: The website displays not only Starlink satellites, but also GPS satellites and those of Oneweb. Musk’s company may have the densest network yet.
But what is the reason for this so-called deorbit? The Lithuanian portal referred this question to Starlink, but the company did not respond to the request.
In principle, the satellites are designed for an operational period of five years. This is a requirement of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authority to deal with the ever-increasing problem of space debris. (It is supposed to burn up when it reenters Earth’s atmosphere.) Although it’s not too late, the first satellites were launched into space in 2019.
Another reason besides the malfunction may be strong solar storms. This results in the emission of electrically charged hydrogen and helium atoms. A natural enemy of satellites, so to speak. This wouldn’t be the first time, as more than 40 satellites were destroyed by particularly violent solar storms in 2022.
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