SpaceX Starlink failure rate is about 3 percent now

Posted on Tuesday, October 27 2020 @ 11:51 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
SpaceX has a very ambitious goal to provide low-latency satellite Internet to all parts of the globe. To achieve this, the space launch company needs thousands of small satellites in a very low earth orbit. These satellites are a lot cheaper than traditional communications satellites, but they're also less durable. SpaceX has over 800 Starlink satellites in orbit right now and has plans to hit a total of 42,000 to ensure good global coverage.

In a new article, Phys takes a look at the failure rate of these satellites and the possible concerns associated with this. Estimates point to a current failure rate of 3 percent for the Starlink constellation, which is not that bad. However, one of the concerns is that such a huge constellation will result in a lot of bad space junk:
But every satellite that is incapable of maneuvering due to problems with its communications or its propulsion system creates a collision hazard for other satellites and spacecraft. As McDowell told Business Insider:

"I would say their failure rate is not egregious. It's not worse than anybody else's failure rates. The concern is that even a normal failure rate in such a huge constellation is going to end up with a lot of bad space junk."
The article has more info about concerns and possible mitigation.

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