Today, April 19, SpaceX launched the second fleet of Starlink V2 ‘Mini’ satellites which are part of the Starlink second-generation (Gen2) system designed to increase the internet network’s capabilities. The Starlink V2 Minis are a smaller version of a future iteration of the V2 satellites which will be much larger and require Starship to launch them. “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.
The second Starlink V2 Mini satellite mission comes nearly two months after the first which launched on February 27. SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared on March 22 that the company paused V2 Mini launches to test the satellites new technology thoroughly after “experiencing some issues” in orbit. “... Some sats [satellites] will be deorbited, others will be tested thoroughly before raising altitude above [International] Space Station,” said Musk last month. It appears the company completed their satellite review, fixed the issues, and has now resumed launching its upgraded Gen2 satellites. A flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 10:31 a.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida to propel 21 Starlink V2 Mini satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/G967Qn865f— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 19, 2023
Approximately 8 minutes and 26 seconds after liftoff, the sooty Falcon 9 first-stage booster returned from space with a propulsive landing on the ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’ droneship which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean around 637 kilometers downrange. Rocket landings are always impressive to watch, video clip linked below. This marked SpaceX’s 186 landing of an orbital-class rocket and the 158 time it reused a previously-flown booster. The Falcon 9 first-stage booster that supported the Starlink (Group 6-2) mission is identifies as B1075-8; it has now flown eight missions, including: SES-22, ispace’s HAKUTO-R Mission 1, Hispasat Amazonas Nexus, SpaceX’s 27th NASA Commercial Resupply Mission to the ISS (CRS-27), and now three Starlink missions.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship pic.twitter.com/0AeVWNBP3t— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 19, 2023
SpaceX has launched a total of 4,238 Starlink satellites to orbit of which 3,926 satellites remain in orbit as of today, according to data compiled by Astronomer Jonathan McDowell. Today’s mission is called Starlink Group 6-2, it is the second fleet of 21 Starlink V2 Mini satellites set to operate in a 43° degree circular orbit at 530 kilometers above Earth. In the days ahead, the satellites will unfurl their two solar arrays and use their onboard Argon Hall thrusters to raise into their operational orbit. SpaceX has approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deploy a total of 7,500 Starlink Gen2 satellites in the years ahead. SpaceX aims to achieve sending Starship to orbit this year to begin launching Starlink Gen2 satellites as soon as its an operational vehicle. Starship will be able to carry more mass than Falcon 9 to rapidly complete the broadband constellation.
Falcon 9 delivers 21 second-generation Starlink satellites to orbit, completing SpaceX's 25th launch of the year pic.twitter.com/Oi4O3kG7CO— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 19, 2023
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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.