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Dozens of SpaceX Starlink satellites won't make it to orbit

March 03, 2019: SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft in low-Earth orbit. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.
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March 03, 2019: SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft in low-Earth orbit. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

A batch of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites launched last week from Kennedy Space Center won’t make it to orbit. Space weather is to blame.

40 of 49 SpaceX Starlink satellites were impacted by what’s called a geomagnetic storm on their way to an orbit about 130 miles above Earth, preventing them from reaching their intended orbital altitude.

The phenomenon is caused by solar winds -- charged particles expelled by our Sun -- which increase the temperature and density of the atmosphere, making it difficult for the satellites to reach their intended orbit. Not able to reach their final destination due to these conditions, most of the satellites will burn up in the atmosphere on their way back to Earth.

SpaceX says there’s no risk these satellites will impact other satellites in orbit.

Starlink is a planned constellation of thousands of satellites to blanket the globe with high-speed internet access.

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