Comments in chat mention that recent FAA documents show that there have been design changes in the StarLink satellites that make future builds "demisable".

This sounds interesting but I don't really know how a satellite is made "demisable" nor how/where to read further about the FAA filing and SpaceX's plans.


1 Answer 1


The clue is right after the word "demisable":

no components of subsequent iterations of the satellite will survive atmospheric re-entry, reducing casualty risk to zero

This means the satellite components are built to be fragile enough to burn up entirely on reentry. How that's done exactly depends, options include reducing material thickness, the use of materials with a low melting point, fasteners with limited strength to make sure the sat breaks up, etc.

NASA has tools to check if a satellite will burn up on reentry:

NASA maintains two levels of reentry risk assessment software:

DAS (Debris Assessment Software) and
ORSAT (Object Reentry Survival Analysis Tool)

Both software tools require a detailed description of each component comprising the space vehicle in question.
– Material properties, shape, dimensions, aero and thermal masses, and, if applicable, internal construction, e.g., electronics box.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is there a ground test if satellite components are demisable? $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 9:57
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I suspect this is done by simulations. A wind tunnel that can sustain Mach 25 for ~10 minutes would be very expensive to build and operate, wind tunnels in that speed regime usually operate for a few seconds per shot. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 11:08

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