SpaceX de-orbits satellites

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SpaceX has announced plans to de-orbit 100 of its early-version 1 Starlink satellites due to a "common error" identified in this subset of satellites that could potentially increase the likelihood of future failures. These satellites are currently operational and maneuverable, effectively serving users, but the identified issue has prompted SpaceX to take preemptive action to ensure the safety and sustainability of space operations. The controlled descent process for these satellites is expected to take approximately six months for most of the vehicles, during which they will maintain maneuverability and collision avoidance capabilities. This decision is part of SpaceX's broader commitment to space sustainability, as the company has already initiated controlled de-orbits of 406 satellites out of the nearly 6,000 Starlink satellites launched to date. SpaceX's approach to de-orbiting satellites involves a controlled, propulsive descent to lower altitudes, where increased atmospheric drag will lead to the satellites burning up in the Earth's atmosphere. This method is designed to ensure that the satellites fully demise upon re-entry, posing no risk to people or property on the ground. SpaceX has developed expertise in conducting these controlled de-orbits in a low altitude, high drag environment, which is considered challenging and requires significant investment in specialized satellite engineering. The company has faced scrutiny and concerns regarding the potential risks associated with re-entering satellites. A report by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) suggested that components from reentering Starlink satellites could pose a risk to people on the ground and aviation. However, SpaceX has contested these claims, asserting that its satellites are designed to fully burn up during atmospheric re-entry. SpaceX's response to the FAA's report emphasized that their satellites are built to fully demise during disposal at the end of their life, and extensive engineering analysis and operational experience verify this. SpaceX's decision to de-orbit these 100 satellites is not expected to impact its broadband services. The company has plans to deploy tens of thousands of Starlink satellites to provide global internet coverage, and it is capable of launching upwards of 200 Starlink satellites each month. The current fleet consists of thousands of units operating at exceptionally low altitudes for a communications network, which facilitates a quicker natural de-orbiting process due to atmospheric drag. This proactive measure by SpaceX to de-orbit satellites due to identified issues underscores the company's commitment to maintaining the safety and sustainability of space operations. It also highlights the challenges and responsibilities faced by operators of large satellite constellations in ensuring the long-term viability of space activities.
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SpaceX to De-orbit Early-Version 1 Starlink satellites
SpaceX to deorbit 100 older Starlink satellites - SpaceNews
SpaceX to Deorbit 100 Starlink Satellites Due to Potential Flaw ...
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