Solar Storm Destroys 40 New SpaceX Satellites In Orbit

Editorial credit: Aleksandr Kukharskiy /

In a significant setback for techpreneur Elon Musk and his company SpaceX, nearly 40 Starlink satellites were destroyed by magnetic plasma ejected in a turbulent geomagnetic storm this week.

Over the past three years, SpaceX has deployed many satellites into low-earth orbit as part of its business to beam high-speed internet service from space, but the latest deployment of 49 new satellites did not go as planned.

As a consequence of a geomagnetic storm triggered by a recent outburst of plasma from the sun, up to 40 of 49 newly launched Starlink satellites have been knocked out of commission.

The geomagnetic incident resulted in the Starlink transmitters drifting back into Earth’s atmosphere, where they will burn up.

Solar storms are magnetic plasma ejected at great speed from the solar surface. While it won’t affect humans directly, magnetic plasma can interfere with electronics when it creates new currents in otherwise passive lines.

It can also interrupt, and in some cases, bring down power grids in some areas of the world.

These Solar Winds occur as a result of the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots (‘dark’ regions on the Sun that are cooler than the surrounding photosphere) and can last for a few minutes or hours.

The sun has an 11-year long cycle in which it oscillates between hyperactive and quiescent states and presently it is ramping up to its peak, which indicates that more such satellites are prone to facing the same problem, the New York Times reported.