Typically, engineers are becoming more specialized and are less likely to understand the hazards of the space environment. Often we have to relearn things that were known by people who retire or move on. … It is also recognized that private companies have a disinclination to release information on their own problems.
—NOAA/SEC Satellite Working Group, 1999
Sometimes we work too hard to make coincidences into real cause and effect: recall the example of the Exxon Valdez accident during the March 1989 space weather event. And sometimes it's not easy to grasp just how complex space weather issues have become in the last ten years. There are many facets to the story and, like a diamond, the impression you get depends on your perspective. When I first started learning about this subject, I was overwhelmed by the lack of careful documentation, and the impossibility of ever finding it, for many of the outages I had heard about. I was also nervous about the basic issue of simultaneous events masquerading as cause and effect. If you are intent on seeing every mishap as a demonstration that satellites are inherently vulnerable, then there is ample circumstantial evidence to support the claim.
Why is it that satellites are assumed to be unaffected by events like cosmic rays, solar flares, or energetic electrons until such a claim can be “proven” by recovering the “body”? If we know that space is a hostile environment to off-the-shelf and nonradiation hardened systems, why do