40 Starlink satellites succumb to geomagnetic storm

SpaceX has lost 40 of 49 satellites recently launched into its large constellation: they had not yet raised their orbits to operational level, and solar events caused 50x increased atmospheric drag, which proved too much.

via reddit

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Further to that, Lloyds insurers offer a handy guide (21 page pdf) to the possible impact of severe solar storms, mostly from a North American perspective.

Historical auroral records suggest a return period of 50 years for Quebec-level storms and 150 years for very extreme storms, such as the Carrington Event that occurred 154 years ago.

Possible impacts on 20 million people, or more, with power outages from weeks to years:

If businesses, public services and households are without power for sustained periods of time, insurers may be exposed to business interruption and other

The events during 28 August – 2 September 1859 are widely regarded as the most extreme space weather events on record. There were two huge auroral events: one on 28 August and an even more widespread display on 2 September… the storm reportedly induced sparks along telegraph wires – shocking operators and rendering the telegraph network inoperable on those two days in North America, Europe, and even parts of Australia and Asia

The 13-14 March 1989 geomagnetic storm … struck around 3a.m. Eastern Time on 13 March and collapsed the Hydro-Quebec power grid in less than two minutes. The resulting geomagnetically induced currents … tripped protective systems on … the Hydro-Quebec grid, resulting in the loss of electric power to more than six million people for nine hours at an economic cost estimated to be around C$13.2Bn

In late October 2003 … solar proton event was the fourth largest in 25 years of records. Minor power grid disturbances were experienced in North America… Sweden experienced a blackout of less than an hour in length affecting around 50,000 customers. The blackout was attributed to the combination of harmonic distortions caused by geomagnetically induced currents and incorrectly set protective relay thresholds.

Based on information from historical auroral records, the mid-point estimate for the return period of a Carrington-level is 150 years, with a reasonable range of 100 - 250 years. For a Quebec-level event, the return period is 50 years, with a reasonable range of 35 - 70 years. These estimates are consistent with return periods derived from power-law modeling … and statistical analysis of historical events