On Monday, February 27, SpaceX launched the first batch of 21 Starlink V2 ‘Mini’ satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). A previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. These are the second-generation (Gen2) Starlink satellites designed to increase the internet network’s capabilities. “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,” the company announced this week. 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.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/OSWplR75Dg— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 27, 2023
The reused Falcon 9 first-stage booster returned from space soon after propelling the upper-stage with the batch of Starlink satellites to orbit. The booster, identified as B1076-3, performed a propulsive landing around 8.5 minutes after liftoff on the ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’ autonomous droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. This marked the third launch and landing of this particular booster which previously launched SpaceX’s 26th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-26) mission for NASA and OneWeb Launch-16. To date, SpaceX has landed orbital-class rockets 174 times and reused recovered boosters 147 times which is an incredible accomplishment in the aerospace industry. SpaceX is the only company in the world capable of recovering orbital-class rockets to reuse.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship pic.twitter.com/CFdhCVuOby— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 27, 2023
SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared an incredible video of the Falcon 9 upper-stage deploying the first stack of 21 Starlink V2 Mini satellites to orbit, shown below. The satellites were deployed approximately an hour after liftoff. SpaceX is arranging the Starlink constellation in orbital ‘shells’ with different orbital parameters. These upgraded satellites are part of the Starlink Group 6-1 which is the first launch of Starlink V2 Mini satellites that will operate in Shell 6. The satellites will operate in a 43 degree circular orbit at an altitude of 530 kilometers above Earth in LEO. These V2 Mini satellites feature new technology that will enable SpaceX to provide high-speed Starlink internet and expand service coverage globally with every launch. In the coming days, the Starlink V2 Minis will use their on-board Argon Hall thrusters to maneuver into their operational orbit. Argon Hall thrusters have never been used off Earth. The new thrusters “have 2.4x the thrust and 1.5x the specific impulse of our first gen[eration] thrusters,” shared SpaceX. The first generation Starlink satellite thrusters are krypton-powered, Musk mentioned that “the transition to argon was tricky, but necessary, as krypton is too rare.”
First Starlink v2 satellites reach orbit pic.twitter.com/0l08568mJ9— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 28, 2023
The transition to argon was tricky, but necessary, as krypton is too rare— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 28, 2023
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Featured Images 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.