The company states that following launch, SpaceX deploys its satellites into a low orbit so that in the very rare case any satellite does not pass initial system checkouts it will quickly be deorbited by atmospheric drag.
However, these satellites were launched just before a geomagnetic storm commenced on Feb 4 which reached the minor G1 geomagnetic storm threshold. Geomagnetic storms temporarily warm up the thermosphere ever so slightly and this causes increased drag for satellites in low orbit.
The company further states that the Starlink team commanded the satellites into a safe-mode where they would fly edge-on (like a sheet of paper) to minimize drag. Unfortunately it was later established that due to the increased drag up to 40 of the satellites could not leave safe-mode to begin orbit raising maneuvers. These satellites will reenter or already have reentered the Earth’s atmosphere. The good news is that according to SpaceX, the deorbiting satellites pose zero collision risk with other satellites and by design demise upon atmospheric reentry. (...)
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