On Thursday, August 31, at 10:21 p.m. ET, SpaceX achieved another milestone in space exploration as their Falcon 9 rocket launched 22 Starlink V2 Mini satellites into low-Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. This launch marked the 60th Falcon 9 mission of the year 2023, demonstrating an impressive average rate of one mission every 4.5 days.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell shared the company's ambitious goals for 2023, including plans to execute a total of 100 Falcon missions. Remarkably, they have already surpassed the halfway point, showcasing their unwavering dedication to space exploration and reusable rocket technology.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/psxYy1zWo4— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 1, 2023
This historic launch featured the seventh flight for the first stage booster identified as B1077-7, which had previously supported missions such as NASA’s Crew-5 astronaut mission, GPS III Space Vehicle 06, Inmarsat I6-F2, NASA’s CRS-28, Intelsat G-37, and another Starlink mission. After liftoff, the booster successfully performed a landing on the "A Shortfall of Gravitas" autonomous drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean, taking only 8.5 minutes to return.
SpaceX's impressive track record includes 259 launches, with 221 orbital class rocket landings and the reuse of recovered boosters a staggering 193 times, setting a new standard for reusability and reliability in space exploration.
The 22 newly deployed Starlink V2 Mini satellites are part of the Group 6-13 mission, the fifteenth fleet of upgraded satellites launched to low Earth orbit (LEO). This launch represents a significant advancement in satellite technology and serves as a stepping stone for SpaceX's future second-generation satellites, expected to be larger and heavier and launched aboard the powerful Starship.
One of the notable improvements of the V2 Mini satellites lies in their essential technologies, including more powerful phased array antennas and the utilization of E-band for backhaul. These advancements enable each satellite to offer approximately four times more capacity than their V1.5 predecessors, promising an upgraded Starlink network with increased bandwidth, higher reliability, and the capability to connect millions more people globally with high-speed internet.
SpaceX has now launched a total of 5,027 internet-beaming Starlink V1 and V2 satellites to Low Earth Orbit, with around 4,683 currently in orbit, according to data maintained by Astronomer Jonathan McDowell. This makes SpaceX's Starlink constellation the world's largest broadband network. SpaceX has approval from the Federal Communications Commission to deploy 7,500 V2 satellites in the coming years, solidifying their position at the forefront of global internet connectivity.
The successful launch of these 22 Starlink V2 Mini satellites is yet another step to SpaceX's commitment to innovation and their mission to provide high-speed internet access to underserved and remote regions around the world.
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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.