SpaceX begins launching V2 Mini Starlink satellites
A Falcon 9 rocket launches a Starlink mission from Florida on February 27, 2023.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has launched the first batch of its next-generation Starlink internet satellites as the company upgrades and continues to expand its orbiting network.
A Falcon 9 rocket launched 21 of the satellites known as the “V2 Mini” into orbit on Monday. The satellites represent the first iteration of Starlink’s “Gen2” plans, which the Federal Communications Commission approved in December.
Musk shared video of the V2 mini satellites being launched into orbit by the rocket. While launches of the company’s first-generation models carried around 50 to 60 satellites at a time, the new spacecraft are larger and heavier than before, meaning each Falcon 9 launch will carry fewer satellites. The company plans to eventually use its under-development Starship rocket on future second-generation Starlink missions.
The upper stage of a Falcon 9 rocket deploys a stack of Starlink “V2 Mini” satellites into orbit on February 27, 2028.
Ahead of launch, SpaceX highlighted the V2 minis’ enhanced capabilities, such as “more powerful phased array antennas” and “new argon Hall thrusters” for orbital maneuvering. The company said the V2 mini-satellites add about four times the network capacity per satellite compared to previous iterations.
Notably, Monday also marked the 100th consecutive time SpaceX has successfully attempted and landed a Falcon 9 rocket booster after a launch — a streak dating back to February 16, 2021. The company is conducting orbital rocket launches at an unprecedented rate in 2023, averaging about every four days.
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The company has launched approximately 4,000 Starlink satellites to date and its network reached 1 million subscribers in December with a variety of product offerings — with services for residential, commercial, RV, marine and aviation customers.
Last week, SpaceX adjusted pricing for its Starlink residential service based on capacity requirements.