SpaceX depends on Starship's success to launch the next-generation Starlink 2.0 satellites, says Elon Musk

by Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo June 04, 2022

SpaceX depends on Starship's success to launch the next-generation Starlink 2.0 satellites, says Elon Musk

Featured Image Source: Created by @ErcXspace via Twitter 

SpaceX is working to complete building the world's most advanced internet infrastructure that consists of launching at least 12,000 Starlink satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). SpaceX depends on Starship's success to launch the next-generation Starlink 2.0 satellites that will enable the company to provide high-speed internet access globally. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said the Starlink 2.0 satellites are going to be larger and more powerful that it will require using a Starship to launch to orbit, he shared during a recent interview with YouTube channel Everyday Astronaut

Musk said that SpaceX already manufactured the first Starlink 2.0 satellite that will be part of the Starlink Gen2 System. Starlink 2.0 satellites feature inter-satellite laser link technology that will enable satellites to communicate directly with one another to transfer data at a much faster rate in orbit without the need to receive data directly from a ground station. He said the Starlink 2.0 satellite is 7 meters (22 feet) long and weighs about 1.25 tons (approximately 2,755 pounds). The Starlink 1.0 first-generation satellites that are currently in orbit weigh about 573 pounds. Musk says the Starlink Gen2 System satellites are heavier because they will feature "much more capable" technology. "Just think of it like how many useful bits of data can each satellite do… Starlink 2.0 in terms of useful bits of data is almost an order of magnitude better than a Starlink 1.0," he told Everyday Astronaut.

The Starlink 2.0 satellites are too large to launch atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, which is capable of launching 50 to 60 Starlink 1.0 satellites to LEO on a single mission. "Falcon neither has the volume nor the mass [to] orbit capability required for Starlink 2.0," Musk said. "So even if we shrunk the Starlink satellite down, the total up mass of Falcon is not nearly enough to do Starlink 2.0," he explained. "We need Starship to work and fly frequently or Starlink 2.0 will be stuck on the ground," Musk said.

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell previously said a Starship is expected to be capable of deploying up to 400 Starlink 1.0 satellites to orbit on a single mission. Starship will be capable of launching approximately 100 tons to LEO, which will enable SpaceX to rapidly complete building the broadband constellation by doubling the amount of satellites it deploys per launch. [This sentence was edited on June 6, 2022 to add more accurate information about how many Starlink 2.0 satellites Starship will be capable of launching.]

 "We need Starship to work and fly frequently or Starlink 2.0 will be stuck on the ground," Musk said.

Starship is currently under development at the Starbase facility located at Boca Chica Beach, Texas. The company is pending regulatory approval to perform the first-ever orbital flight test this year. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been working on completing an environmental assessment for roughly 11 months which caused SpaceX to delay attempting to launch a Starship to orbit. The FAA announced it plans to complete the assessment by June 13th; Once complete, SpaceX will be able to apply for a spaceflight license to launch a Starship launch vehicle prototype to orbit. 

Musk previously said that SpaceX will launch thousands of Starlink satellites before launching any humans aboard Starship. Boca Chica Village residents have seen the Starship SN24 prototype features a payload cargo door that looks like it could be a Starlink satellite dispenser, as pictured below.  A digital artist @ErcXspace created a render of how Starlink satellites could be deployed, image is also linked below. It is unknown whether SpaceX plans to deploy Starlink satellites on a debut flight or just test the cargo door mechanism in microgravity. Starship SN24 is the vehicle that engineers are ground testing to conduct the orbital flight test. 

    

Author's Note: This article was edited on June 6, 2022 to add more accurate information about how many Starlink 2.0 satellites Starship will be capable of launching per mission.

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Featured Image Source: @ErcXspace via Twitter








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