SpaceX Starlink satellites had to make 25 thousand maneuvers to avoid collisions

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In total, Starlink satellites have completed more than 50,000 maneuvers since launch.

According to a report filed by SpaceX with the FCC, Starlink satellites were forced to deviate 25,299 times between December 1, 2022 and May 31, 2023 to avoid a potentially dangerous approach to other spacecraft or orbital debris. . 

SpaceX Starlink satellites
SpaceX Starlink satellites

The number of required maneuvers has almost doubled compared to the previous semi-annual reporting period. Since the launch of the first Starlink in 2019, satellites have had to be moved more than 50,000 times to prevent collisions.

The surge in maneuvers worries experts as it follows an exponential curve, raising concerns that the safety of operations in an orbital environment could soon spiral out of control.

SpaceX Starlink satellites had to make 25 thousand maneuvers to avoid collisions

Astronautics professor at the University of Southampton in the UK and orbital safety expert Hugh Lewis noted: 

Now every six months the number of maneuvers is doubling. In just two years, it has grown 10 times, and if you predict this, you will have 50,000 over the next six month period, then 100,000 over the next, then 200,000 and so on. 

If this trend continues, by 2028 Starlink satellites will have to maneuver almost a million times every six months to minimize the risk of orbital collisions. And Lewis doesn’t expect growth to slow anytime soon. So far, SpaceX has deployed about one-third of its planned first-generation constellation of 12,000 spacecraft. The company launches over 800 satellites a year, and this trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

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