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Aerospace TechBlog

Will Geomagnetic Storms Complicate Low Earth Orbit Constellations?

SpaceX’s Starlink constellation lost 40 satellites last week due to unanticipated effects of a geomagnetic storm. As we enter a new 11-year solar cycle, many of these constellations will experience previously untested conditions. We asked our space weather expert about what this will mean for future LEO constellations.

An International Space Station camera captures 16 Starlink satellites passing over the Aurora. Credit: NASA/ISS

What happened to the Starlink satellites when the geomagnetic storm hit?

Was this a predictable event? How much warning time did SpaceX have?

Space debris of the Starlink satellites reentering over Puerto Rico. Credit: Eddie Irizarry / Sociedad de Astronomía del Caribe

What kind of precautions are taken before launch to address space weather events?

Is the frequency of Space Weather incidents increasing? If so, will this endanger existing Low Earth Orbit SmallSat constellations?

Was the event detected by ECP-lite or other Aerospace-developed space weather sensors?

Were there widespread impacts to other satellites during this event?

What challenges does the loss of these satellites underscore?



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