During the period from December 1, 2020 to November 30, 2022, Starlink satellites performed 26,037 avoidance maneuvers in orbit. This was announced by Hugh Lewis, a lecturer at the University of Southampton, who is engaged in research in the field of space technology and space debris.
SpaceX has reported a total of 26,037 collision avoidance manoeuvres being performed in the period 1 December 2020 to 30 November 2022 (i.e. 2 years). The trend is a 3rd order polynomial (R^2 = 0.998) [2/n]— Hugh Lewis (@ProfHughLewis) January 3, 2023
According to Lewis, this figure is contained in a report sent to SpaceX to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The document indicates that Starlink satellites are currently performing 75 avoidance maneuvers per day. According to SpaceX, the vehicles have a fuel reserve sufficient to carry out 5,000 course corrections (including 350 orbital avoidance maneuvers) during their operational life. However, this only applies to the first-generation Starlink satellites currently in operation. At the moment, it is not known what kind of fuel reserve the next-generation devices will have.
As the group continues to deploy, the number of avoidance maneuvers will inevitably increase. If the current pace is maintained, by 2027 it will exceed the figure of one million (with a thousand avoidance maneuvers per day). However, Lewis emphasizes that these calculations are based on extrapolation of existing figures. If an estimate is made based on the number of active satellites, the figure of a million avoidances will be passed by the time the size of the Starlink grouping reaches 7500 – 8000 spacecraft.
The researcher also assessed the probability of a collision involving one of the Starlinks in the period from 2020 to 2022 in the event that the spacecraft did not maneuver at all. According to his calculations, it is at least 22.9%.
Earlier we talked about the fact that an additional 10,000 Starlink terminals will be sent to Ukraine.
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