Elon Musk’s SpaceX has lost up to 40 satellites, after they were hit by a geomagnetic storm a day after launch. Ouch.

The satellites had been due to join the Starlink satellite internet project which would provide high-speed internet using thousands of orbiting satellites.

Each one achieved controlled flight but were hit by the storm – which caused the atmosphere to warm and atmospheric density at the satellites’ low deployment altitudes to increase.

Not to mention the sun is now in a new solar cycle, which means geomagnetic storms could worsen in the next few years (meaning more risks to satellites).

“Onboard GPS suggests the escalation speed and severity of the storm caused atmospheric drag to increase up to 50% higher than during previous launches,” SpaceX said.

SpaceX tried to put the satellites into a safe mode, turning them to fly edge-on to minimise drag but the drag was so strong it prevented the satellites from ever leaving safe mode.

Instead, up to 40 will fall back in to Earth’s atmosphere and burn up.

“The deorbiting satellites pose zero collision risk with other satellites and by design demise upon atmospheric reentry—meaning no orbital debris is created and no satellite parts hit the ground,” SpaceX said.


To Markets …

The ASX 200 is up 19.80 points or 0.27% at midday today to 7288.10.

In London, the FTSE 100 hit a new two-year high, closing up 1.01%, after another strong session yesterday, boosted by travel and leisure and a possible easing of Covid-19 restrictions in England at the end of the month, says Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

US stocks rose and government-bond yields fell Wednesday following a recent climb, potentially easing some pressure on technology shares.

Investors have been unloading shares of tech companies with lofty valuations ahead of a potential increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve.

And analysts said the volatility could continue until investors get clear guidance from the Fed about the rate increases ahead. Some are betting the turbulence will continue throughout 2022.

“We could potentially see bouts of volatility throughout this year, especially as the Fed starts its tightening cycle; that’s usually when markets have a little bit of indigestion,” said Mona Mahajan, a senior investment strategist at Edward Jones.

Fresh inflation data due today is expected to give investors additional clues as to how quickly the Fed may raise rates after slashing them in 2020 to cushion the economy from the impact of Covid-19.



Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for February 10 [intraday]:

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The biggest small cap winner today was ABX Group (ASX:ABX) who discovered a new rare earth element (REE) prospect a ‘Portrush’, 52km from the explorer’s ‘Deep Leads’ REE project in northern Tasmania.

“We are discovering better grades and thicker mineralisation over a much larger province than thought possible,” ABx exploration manager Paul Glover said.

The company’s next drill program will sample the full thickness of this shallow, clay-hosted REE and give some indications of how large these discoveries can be,

“It’s time to step-out much wider,” operations manager, Nathan Towns said.


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