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Do we know what is the expected lifespan of a Starlink satellite? I wonder how well this event factored into their cost calculations, like is this a "once-a-decade" event that actually happens every couple years, or was it in-line with their actuaries?

The current generation has a 5-7 year lifespan and after that they are to either naturally decay or manually deorbit. The next gen that is supposed to be deployed with starship provided things get off the ground is intended to stay in orbit for a decent bit longer since they are larger, more expensive satellites.

In the grand scheme of things, this initial set is more a prototype than anything else so I doubt the loss will have any serious permanence. Now getting starship to production on the other hand will really be what makes or breaks the starlink program (as it won't even be possible to deploy v2 if they were to dedicate every possible falcon 9 launch towards just deploying sats).

I think this loss it a bit more painful than you imply. Sure, they're prototypes, but these are the latest prototypes. They were probably equipped with laser links, and while 40 satellites is only a small fraction of the entire constellation, it would be a much more substantial fraction of the laser-equipped ones.

This didn't affect satellites that were in their final LEO orbits; it affected part of a batch of newly launched satellites that were lower down, on their way up toward their final orbit, and therefore susceptible to the temporary thickening of the upper atmosphere. The effect on the lifespan of Starlink satellites is just to add slightly more "infant mortality" compared to a hypothetical world without geomagnetic storms -- 40 satellites is about 2% of the ones they've launched.

Five years design lifespan before deorbit.

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