On June 4, SpaceX launched the 38th mission of 2023 which deployed a fleet of 22 Starlink Gen2 (second generation) system satellites which are designed to enhance the internet network’s capabilities. The mission is known as Group 6-4 which is the fourth fleet of Starlink V2 Mini satellites deployed to orbit. These are a ‘Mini’ version of a larger iteration of Gen2 system satellites which will be launched by Starship in the years to come. SpaceX is launching the Starlink V2 Minis atop Falcon 9 rockets to begin the upgraded systems deployment. The satellites feature inter-satellite laser links which enables a much faster communication amongst the satellites in orbit by using lasers to directly beam data to one another, instead of directly accessing data ground stations on Earth. “V2 Minis include key technologies—such as more powerful phased array antennas and the use of E-band for backhaul—which will allow Starlink to provide ~4x more capacity per satellite than earlier iterations. This means Starlink can provide more bandwidth with increased reliability and connect millions of more people around the world with high-speed internet,” says the company.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/FVL8j6vvu1— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 4, 2023
A flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 8:20 a.m. ET on Sunday to launch the Starlink Group 6-4 satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Falcon 9 first-stage booster which supported this mission is identified as B1078-3 which previously launched SpaceX’s NASA Crew-6 astronaut flight to the International Space Station and the SES O3b mPOWER mission. Approximately 8 minutes after liftoff, the booster was recovered a third time by conducting a propulsive landing on the ‘Just Read the Instructions’ autonomous droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean, video clip below. As of today, SpaceX has performed 236 missions, landed orbital-class rockets 197 times, and reused recovered boosters 170 times.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship pic.twitter.com/bg6OerL9IG— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 4, 2023
The fleet of 22 Starlink V2 Mini satellites was released to LEO at around one hour after liftoff. This mission increased SpaceX’s Starlink constellation size to 4,219 Starlink Gen1 and Gen2 satellites in orbit, according to data maintained by leading astronomer Jonathan McDowell. In the coming years, SpaceX aims to complete a constellation of 12,000 Starlink satellites. The company already has approval from the Federal Communications Commission to launch 7,500 Gen2 System satellites.
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.