SpaceX appears to have deorbited a second Starlink satellite. Designated Starlink 1220 (SSN 45211), the satellite was deorbited from a 324 x 361-kilometer orbit on March 9.
The satellite was one of 60 launched aboard a flight-proven Falcon 9 less than a month ago on February 17. Following its launch, the satellite was deployed into a low Earth orbit at an altitude of approximately 300 kilometers. It was then raised to an orbit of around 350 kilometers.
Ordinarily, this 350-kilometer orbit is then held while operators precess the orbital plane of each satellite. Once this step is complete, it is then raised into an operational orbit.
In the case of Starlink 1220, however, the company seems to have instead made the decision to deorbit the satellite.
SpaceX has not yet commented on the reason behind deorbiting the first Starlink satellite on February 20 and is unlikely to do so for Starlink 1220. It is, as a result, unclear if the fault that preceded deorbiting the satellite was one suffered during manufacturing or during deployment.
Unlike most other deployments, SpaceX does not deploy Starlink satellites one at a time. Instead, the company deploys all 60 at once allowing for some contact in the process. The company has stated that the satellites are designed to be able to handle a few bumps during deployment. However, the reality of this somewhat chaotic deployment method definitely lends itself to one or two unforeseen incidents.