SpaceX’s Starlink satellites had to avoid wreckage as a direct result of the Soviet missile launch, according to Elon Musk on Tuesday. On November 15, Russia launched a rocket at one of its satellites, triggering an avalanche of debris to be spread across the Low-Earth Orbit, travelling at speeds nearly 10x the velocity of a gunshot. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station sought refuge in their spacecraft, preparing to escape the station in the event of a catastrophe. The enormous clouds of debris endanger practically everything within Earth’s orbit, particularly Starlink, a constellation of over 1,700 SpaceX broadband satellites. “We had to change certain Starlink satellite trajectories to lessen the likelihood of an accident,” Musk, who established SpaceX in 2002, tweeted. “It’s not fantastic, but it’s also not bad.”
Smaller objects can quickly disable a satellite. In such an instance, the satellite would gradually lose elevation until it dropped into Earth’s atmosphere, where it would burn up due to friction. An impact with a larger piece of Russian shrapnel might exacerbate the fragmentation situation. If one of the larger bits of debris hits the satellite, it might shatter into thousands of fragments, astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who studies satellites and trash items, told Insider following the missile test. Junk could be seen striking the satellites, producing additional debris to impact more satellites. According to the US State Department, the Russian missile test produced more than 1,500 bits of debris big enough to be tracked from the ground.
However, no one has yet correctly recognized or tracked all of the larger objects. That may take several months. If it isn’t in the catalog, SpaceX isn’t aware of its existence. As a result, they are unable to avoid them. As SpaceX expands its satellite network, avoiding debris will most likely become more common. The Federal Communications Commission has granted SpaceX permission to launch 12,000 of its Starlink satellites into orbit, and the firm has requested permission to launch a further 30,000.