The failure of at least five percent of the first batch of SpaceX Starlink satellites has put a spotlight on the growing concerns that satellite megaconstellations could litter low Earth orbit with hundreds of dead satellites.
Three of the 60 satellites SpaceX launched last month to begin its broadband megaconstellation have lost contact with ground control teams, a SpaceX spokesperson said June 28.
Despite complaints by individual astronomers and astronomical organizations, legal experts say there is little they can do under existing federal law and regulations to halt the deployment of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites.
The 60 satellites SpaceX launched eight days ago for its Starlink broadband megaconstellation have powered up and contacted ground stations, the company said.
The filings show SpaceX sold all but $18.8 million of the shares available between the two rounds. The company raised $1.022 billion in total.
The rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 10:30 p.m. Eastern, and deployed the satellites into a low Earth orbit a little over an hour later.
SpaceX says Starlink satellites will directly receive Air Force tracking data and use that to tweak their orbits when presented with the risk of a collision. Space debris experts say the probability of a collision varies on a case-by-case basis, making automation difficult.
SpaceX shared details about its largely secretive Starlink constellation program March 15, providing updated targets for commercial service, details about satellite design and the thought process behind why the company’s upper target is 12,000 satellites.
Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, said the launch will carry “dozens of satellites,” adding more prototypes to the two currently in low Earth orbit.
Mynaric, a German laser communications startup focused on satellite and airborne platforms, has hired a SpaceX employee previously involved in the Starlink megaconstellation.
Boeing is not actively building any satellites for the constellation it proposed to U.S. regulators two years ago, an industry executive said June 25.
U.S. telecom regulators the evening of March 29 accepted SpaceX’s application to launch a megaconstellation of 4,425 broadband satellites, but denied the company’s request to relax the deadline by which it must have its entire constellation in orbit.
SpaceX on Feb. 22 launched Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Spanish-owned radar-imaging satellite and two demonstration satellites for SpaceX's proposed broadband Starlink broadband constellation.The 9:17 a.m. Eastern launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California carried all three spacecraft to low Earth orbit, deploying the PAZ radar satellite 11 minutes after liftoff.