The fall of Starlink is mistaken for a missile attack

The Starlink satellite that burned down in the atmosphere over Spain last Sunday caused great consternation among local residents. It looked like a ballistic missile to observers.

The fall of Starlink. Source:

Fall of the Starlink satellite

The Starlink satellite caused panic reports of a ballistic missile. It all started on the night from Saturday to Sunday at 22:59 UTC (23:59 CET). The Spanish meteor observation network has published images of an artificial object that entered the atmosphere over the Mediterranean Sea. In their Twitter post, they said it could be a ballistic missile.

The acuteness of the moment was added by the fact that the object was seen over the major cities of Barcelona and Valencia. Therefore, panic began to spread across European social networks. However, it did not last long. Within a few hours, the German Air Force responded to the situation and reported that it must be one of the Starlink satellites that had descended from orbit.

Raul Torres, head of the private space firm PLD Space, based in Spain, also commented on the situation. According to him, it could be nothing other than a satellite burning up in the atmosphere. After all, no one in their right mind would launch intercontinental missiles over Europe.

Why are Starlink satellites a problem

Although the alarm turned out to be false, Starlink satellites are becoming increasingly worrisome. Since 2019, about 12,000 of them have been launched and 5,900 of them are now in orbit. Their average life time is 5 years. 

They are very disturbing to astronomers, because they illuminate the starry sky and greatly interfere with astronomical observations. Therefore, scientists are now making more and more efforts to minimize their impact.

As for the Starlink descents from orbit, so far they do not pose a threat, because all parts of these devices burn up in the atmosphere and none reach the earth. But, apparently, reports like Sunday’s about a “missile attack” will now become commonplace. They have the potential to cause significant panic.

According to

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time