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Three of SpaceX's Starlink Satellites have Failed

Accepted submission by RandomFactor at 2019-06-29 16:08:19 from the 95% success dept.
Science

SpaceX's Starlink program launched an initial sixty satellites on May 23. At least three of these "are no longer in service" and "will passively deorbit." [sciencealert.com] according to a spokesperson for the company.

In other words, the three spacecraft failed and will fall back to Earth, likely within a year because of their relatively low orbit of 273 miles (440 kilometers) above the planet's surface.

SpaceX seems relatively unfazed by the failures, though, since the company never expected all of them to function perfectly given the mission's experimental nature.

SpaceX intentionally implemented the satellites with minor variations.

On a brighter note, 45 of the satellites, which are equipped with small ion engines for maneuvering, have already reached their intended orbits. Five are moving towards their orbits, and five are pending evaluation before maneuvering. Another "[t]wo satellites are being intentionally deorbited to simulate an end of life disposal."

[N]ow that the majority of the satellites have reached their operational altitude, SpaceX will begin using the constellation to start transmitting broadband signals, testing the latency and capacity by streaming videos and playing some high bandwidth video games using gateways throughout North America.

The Starlink program was stung by early comments that the program was negatively affecting astronomy [businessinsider.com.au] and SpaceX

added that it "continues to monitor the visibility of the satellites as they approach their final orbit" and that they will be measured for their visibility from the ground once there. Those comments are likely meant to address concerns lodged by astronomers about the reflectivity of Starlink spacecraft

The satellites are designed to completely disintegrate upon entering Earth's atmosphere, and the failures may help drive future iterations.

Previous Coverage
Most of SpaceX's Starlink Internet Satellites are Already on Track [soylentnews.org]
SpaceX Satellites Pose New Headache for Astronomers [soylentnews.org]
Third Time's the Charm! SpaceX Launch Good; Starlink Satellite Deployment Coming Up [Updated] [soylentnews.org]
SpaceX to Launch 60 Starlink Satellites: Postponed 1 Day Due to Upper Altitude Winds [UPDATE 2] [soylentnews.org]
SpaceX to Launch 60 Starlink Satellites at Once, and More [soylentnews.org]
SpaceX's First Dedicated Starlink Launch Set for May; Amazon Hired SpaceX Execs for Project Kuiper [soylentnews.org]


Original Submission