(NEXSTAR) – Less than three weeks after up to 40 satellites fell out of orbit shortly after launch, SpaceX has sent 46 more skyward.
SpaceX announced Monday that 46 more Starlink satellites were taken into orbit during a launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. This was the fourth Starlink mission launch of 2022.
Earlier this month, SpaceX reported that as many as 40 of its satellites were expected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere after they were hit by a geomagnetic storm. According to SpaceX, the satellites were deployed into their intended orbit and each one achieved controlled flight.
The next day, though, a geomagnetic storm hit. During these storms, the atmospheric density where the satellites are deployed increased. With the rapid change in conditions, SpaceX’s Starlink team put the satellites into safe mode, helping them to “take cover from the storm.”
Unfortunately, SpaceX reports a preliminary analysis found the increased drag at the low altitudes where the satellites orbit prevented them from leaving their safe mode. Because of this, up to 40 of the satellites from the launch were expected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere.
While it may seem daunting to think of satellites falling out of orbit and heading toward Earth, don’t expect to see any debris landing on your front lawn.
The company says deorbiting satellites “pose zero collision risk with other satellites and by design demise upon atmospheric reentry.” This means no debris is created and parts won’t hit the ground, according to SpaceX. If a satellite experiences problems, it quickly de-orbits and burns up in the atmosphere, preventing any “space junk.”
Starlink satellites are used to provide broadband internet to customers around the globe. SpaceX has roughly 2,000 satellites orbiting Earth, with the first launched in 2019.