SpaceX Appear to be Preparing to Deorbit Tintin Starlink Satellites

SpaceX appears to be in the process of deorbiting the Tintin A and B Starlink satellites.
Image credit: SpaceX

SpaceX appears to be preparing to deorbit the Tintin Starlink demonstration satellites. The satellites were launched in 2018 and will be the third and fourth Starlink satellites to be deorbited.

Tintin A and B were launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on February 22, 2018, and were the first two additions to the Starlink constellation. The two test satellites were expected to remain operational for six months. If that operational lifespan was exceeded, the satellites would remain in operation until such time as the primary mission goals could no longer be met.

After more than two years in orbit, the two pioneering satellites appear to no longer be capable of meeting primary mission goals.

Since the satellites were deployed, they have remained in a steady orbit at an altitude of approximately 500 kilometers. Early this month, the orbits of both satellites began to shrink and are currently under 490 kilometers. This appears to indicate that the pair are set to be decommissioned in the coming weeks.

The two Tintin satellites will be the third and fourth Starlink satellites to be deorbited. The first, Starlink 46 was deorbited in February 2020. The second, Starlink 1220 followed a month later.

The decommissioning of Starlink 1220 was significant as it had been deployed less than a month earlier. This seems to indicate an issue with the satellite. However, SpaceX is yet to release a statement on any Starlink decommissioning conducted thus far. As a result, any speculation on the reasoning behind the deorbiting of Starlink 1220 would be speculation.

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.