Spectacular video: Starlink satellites destroyed in geomagnetic storm

The spectacular demise of at least one of Starlink's internet satellites has apparently been caught on camera in Puerto Rico.

Yesterday Elon Musk's company, which provides fast broadband to remote areas around the world including rural New Zealand, said 40 of the 49 satellites it launched just last week were doomed.

A massive geomagnetic storm forced Starlink to put the satellites into 'safe-mode', during which they fly edge-on to try and stop drag. However the "significant" storm caused further issues.

"Preliminary analysis shows the increased drag at the low altitudes prevented the satellites from leaving safe-mode to begin orbit raising manoeuvres, and up to 40 of the satellites will re-enter or already have re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere," Starlink said.

And thanks to cameras at the Sociedad de Astronomia del Caribe (SAC), which monitor the skies of Puerto Rico, it's likely that the space debris was caught as it flashed across the Caribbean.

According to Eddie Irizarry of SAC, the video shows an "interesting event that appears to be related" to the Starlink satellite failures. The disintegration and noticeable fragmentation is characteristic of space debris, Irizarry said.

That was backed by Netherlands satellite tracking expert Marco Langbroek.

"I did astrometry on the Puerto Rico sighting, and the orbital inclination fits the 53.2 degrees of the Starlink launch," he said.

"My best guess still remains that this was one of the failed Starlink satellites from February 3."

According to Langbroek the original video could show two pieces from the same satellite, or two separate objects travelling in the same orbital plane.

"There is very little doubt that this was a Starlink satellite re-entering," Langbroek said.

Starlink recently announced it is working to provide internet access for Tonga's islands.

The Pacific nation's internet sea cable was damaged by the recent Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano eruption, and Musk was asked by National's Dr Shane Reti to help out.