In the early hours of Tuesday, August 22, SpaceX achieved another milestone in its ongoing effort to revolutionize global internet connectivity. At precisely 2:37 a.m. PT, a veteran Falcon 9 rocket roared to life at Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, propelling 21 Starlink V2 Mini satellites into low-Earth orbit. This mission, designated as Starlink Group 7-1, marked the thirteenth deployment of "Mini" satellites that are part of the second-generation (Gen2) Starlink series, showcasing SpaceX's unwavering commitment to enhancing its satellite network technology.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/AvzApSXTnU— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 22, 2023
The Gen2 Starlink satellites, colloquially referred to as "V2 minis," represent a significant leap forward in satellite technology. Armed with advanced features such as more powerful phased array antennas and the utilization of E-band for backhaul, these satellites offer approximately four times the capacity per satellite compared to their predecessors. This upgrade translates to increased bandwidth, improved reliability, and the potential to provide high-speed internet access to millions more people worldwide. V2 Minis are a smaller iteration of the second-generation satellites that will be launched by Starship as soon as its operational. Don’t let the name fool you, V2 Minis are equipped with advanced 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,” stated company representatives. With every Starlink V2 Mini fleet of satellites deployed to orbit, the company is increasing the internet network’s capabilities for over 1.5 million customers globally.
This launch also marked a remarkable milestone for the Falcon 9 booster. The Falcon 9 first stage booster with the designation B1061-15 successfully completed its fifteenth flight supporting this mission. Previously, the booster had played a crucial role in historic missions, including NASA's Crew-1 and Crew-2 astronaut missions to the International Space Station (ISS), the deployment of SiriusXM's SXM-8 radio broadcasting satellite, NASA's 23rd Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-23) mission to the ISS, and SpaceX's Transporter-4 and Transporter-5 rideshare launches, among others.
Around eight minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9's first stage booster executed a precise propulsive landing on SpaceX's autonomous droneship, named 'Of Course I Still Love You.' This marks the 218th successful landing of an orbital-class rocket for SpaceX and the 191st reuse of a Falcon 9 first-stage booster, underscoring the company's ongoing commitment to reusability and cost-effective space operations.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship pic.twitter.com/DwgDDCC895— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 22, 2023
As of today, SpaceX operates approximately 4,640 Starlink V1 and V2 Mini satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). SpaceX has approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch a total of 7,500 Starlink V2 satellites to LEO. As the company continues to refine and expand its satellite network, more communities around the world stand to benefit from improved connectivity, bridging the digital divide and opening new opportunities for education, communication, and economic growth.
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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.