The Starlink initiative is one of the most controversial ventures of SpaceX, but the company has remained hard at work despite some intense criticism that has surfaced in recent times.
More than 300 satellites have been launched in the last year as the ambitious mega constellation is starting to form. With a target of 12,000 operational spacecraft, some time will pass until the goal is completed.
SpaceX has mentioned that the primary aim of the project is to provide access to affordable internet connections in areas where the infrastructure is weak or the costs are too high for the population. To prove that the project will not cause problems, the company had to pass a series of tests, including one which involved the ability to deorbit a faulty satellite safely. In most cases, a deorbiting procedure will not be needed unless severe malfunctions are found, or the spacecraft has reached the end of its operational lifetime.
SpaceX Deorbited One Starlink Satellite
During the start of February, SpaceX has initiated the deorbiting procedure for Starlink 46, which is one of the satellites that were launched with the help of a Falcon 9 rocket in May 2019. Recent measurements have shown that the satellite was on a shallow orbit a few days ago, and it appears that it has managed to reentry without problems.
SpaceX hasn’t offered any data about the event, so there is no way to know if the satellite was selected randomly for the procedure or if the company wanted to prevent any issues that could have been caused by a potential malfunction in the future.
Current data infers that the orbit of at least one other Starlink satellite has been lowered during the middle of 2019, and it has remained at an altitude of 300 kilometers. Some voices theorize that it could be decommissioned in the future, but only time will tell.