Elon Musk to decommission 100 satellites in six months

Elon Musk's SpaceX is preparing to deorbit 100 of its Starlink satellites due to a "design flaw," raising concerns among experts. According to a company statement, SpaceX plans to destroy 100 of its Starlink satellites currently in Earth's orbit because of a flaw in their design.

Publication: 09.03.2024 - 14:31
Elon Musk to decommission 100 satellites in six months
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The statement from SpaceX explains,

"These satellites are fully maneuverable and are currently providing uninterrupted service to users. However, the Starlink technical team has identified a common issue in this small satellite cluster that could increase the likelihood of a future malfunction."

The specifics of the "common issue" were not disclosed, but the method of satellite decommissioning is well understood.

The satellites will be brought down from orbit to burn up in Earth's atmosphere, turning them into ash.

However, this decision has sparked concerns among atmospheric scientists, as burning satellites in the atmosphere can harm the ozone layer and exacerbate global warming.

The real issue, according to Dan Cziczo, an atmospheric scientist from Purdue University, lies in the potential for "metallic particles left in the atmosphere after the satellites burn, which could increase ozone layer depletion through atmospheric flight."

The aluminum in the satellites transforms atmospheric gases into harmful substances that can puncture the ozone layer.

Aaron Boley, an associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of British Columbia, stated, "Every day, 54 tons of meteor material enters Earth's atmosphere. With the first generation of Starlink, we can expect about two tons of satellite debris entering the atmosphere daily. However, meteors are mostly composed of oxygen, magnesium, and silicon, whereas these satellites are primarily made of aluminum. Meteors contain very little aluminum, about one percent..."

Starlink operates with the cooperation of 5,438 satellites worldwide. The 100 problematic satellites are scheduled to be deorbited within six months.

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