SpaceX’s Starlink Internet Faces Grave Safety Allegations from FAA

Published by hocmarketing, 11 October 2023
Editor: Diem My

SpaceX has requested federal regulators to rectify a report that erroneously implies that the Starlink satellite constellation could potentially endanger individuals on Earth. The Federal Aviation Administration, responsible for granting licenses for commercial spacecraft launch and reentry, presented the report to members of Congress on October 5.

According to a 35-page analysis, which was partly compiled by the nonprofit research group The Aerospace Corporation, there are significant risks involved with large satellite networks like Starlink. The report paints a bleak picture, stating that if the projected growth of these constellations is achieved and debris from Starlink satellites does not burn up upon reentry, it is likely that one person on Earth will be injured or killed every two years by 2035.

Furthermore, the analysis predicts that the likelihood of an aircraft being brought down due to a collision with falling space debris could reach 0.0007 per year by 2035.

SpaceX strongly criticized the conclusions in a letter dated October 9th, dismissing the claims about the safety risks and potential harm connected to Starlink as “absurd, unwarranted, and incorrect.” CNN obtained the letter, which highlights that the report’s assessment of reentry disposal risks associated with Starlink is severely flawed. Furthermore, SpaceX accuses the Aerospace Corporation of neglecting to engage with SpaceX for accurate information and omitting the company’s own analysis and reports on Starlink satellite disposal.

The letter affirms that SpaceX’s satellites are intentionally designed and constructed to completely disintegrate when reentering the Earth’s atmosphere at the end of their lifecycle, and they successfully accomplish this. Moreover, it states that 325 Starlink satellites have already undergone controlled descent since February 2020, and no fragments have been discovered.

Over time, there is a notable risk

According to the FAA analysis, SpaceX has stated that its Starlink satellites completely disintegrate in the atmosphere upon re-entering Earth at the conclusion of their service. This eliminates any heightened threat of colliding with individuals, aircraft, or infrastructure, as confirmed by the report. The Federal Communications Commission, responsible for granting authorization to satellite operators, has also acknowledged this evaluation.

But, according to the document, The Aerospace Corporation has determined that each SpaceX spacecraft has the potential to generate three debris fragments weighing 300 grams each. The FAA, for the purpose of this report, has opted for a more cautious approach.

Project Kuiper, Amazon’s low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite broadband initiative, is preparing to put its first two satellites into space during its “Protoflight” mission.


Amazon has launched its initial Project Kuiper satellites, aiming to establish a vast megaconstellation. Additionally, it acknowledged the potential risk posed over time by even a minor quantity of debris when numerous satellites are anticipated to reenter.

SpaceX denied the claim, asserting that the assessment was based on flawed data and assumptions. According to the company, the statistics were derived from a NASA study conducted over two decades ago, which specifically examined satellites from a different operator called Iridium. The study was never meant to be utilized for assessing risks.

In addition, SpaceX expressed dissatisfaction with the report’s narrow focus solely on Starlink. The company pointed out that other satellite systems, such as Amazon’s Project Kuiper, OneWeb, and the various LEO systems developed by China, were overlooked. (SpaceX emphasized this point in their letter.)

Starlink is referenced 28 times in the FAA report, whereas Amazon’s Project Kuiper system is mentioned four times in the data tables. The analysis also predicts that SpaceX’s satellites will constitute “85 percent of the projected hazards to individuals on the ground and aviation” by 2035.

The FAA and the four members of Congress who received the initial report did not offer immediate comments. CNN is currently awaiting a response from the Aerospace Corporation.

The report was prepared for Congress to comply with a 2020 legal obligation for the FAA to examine how it could enhance safety measures related to the launch and reentry process. According to the report, the FAA acknowledges that modifying its regulations via rulemaking would still not fully mitigate all risks to individuals on the ground or in aircraft due to the agency’s lack of jurisdiction over payloads originating from outside the United States.

See: Original Article