By Steve DaSilva
When you think about space, your mind probably conjures images of zero gravity zen — quiet, serenity, a seemingly impossible stillness. Storms, those wrathful furors of wind and rain, probably don’t appear in your mind’s eye. But while you may only be able to feel the rain on your skin down here on Earth, the upper atmosphere isn’t free from its own damaging winds — winds that just cost Starlink almost an entire payload of satellites.
Last Thursday, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket fully loaded with Starlink satellites — 49 of them in total, all headed for a permanent location low in Earth’s orbit. Trouble came just a day later, when a geomagnetic storm interfered with the orbit of 40 of those satellites. Each of those 40 has now already burned up in the atmosphere, or is in the process of doing so.