February 28, 2024

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SpaceX begins launching the V2 Mini Starlink satellites

SpaceX begins launching the V2 Mini Starlink satellites
  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX has launched the first batch of next-generation Starlink internet satellites.
  • The Falcon 9 rocket carried 21 satellites, known as the “V2 mini” satellites, into orbit.
  • The company said the V2 Mini satellites add about four times the network capacity per satellite compared to previous iterations.

The Starlink mission Falcon 9 rocket launched from Florida on February 27, 2023.

SpaceX

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has launched the first batch of its next-generation Starlink internet satellites as the company upgrades and builds more of its orbital network.

The Falcon 9 rocket carried 21 satellites, known as the V2 Mini, into orbit on Monday. The satellites represent the first iteration under Starlink’s “Gen2” plans, which the FCC cleared in December.

Musk shared a video of the V2 Mini satellites emitted from the rocket into orbit. While first-generation model launches carried about 50 to 60 satellites at a time, the new spacecraft is larger and heavier than before, meaning each Falcon 9 launch carries fewer satellites. The company plans to eventually use its Starship rocket, which is in development, for 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.

SpaceX

SpaceX highlighted the improved capabilities of the V2 Minis before launch, such as “more powerful graduated array antennas” and “new Argonne Hall thrusters” for maneuvering in orbit. The company said the V2 Mini satellites add about four times the network capacity per satellite compared to previous iterations.

Notably, Monday also marks the 100th consecutive occasion that SpaceX has successfully attempted and landed a Falcon 9 rocket after launch β€” a streak dating back to February 16, 2021. The company conducts orbital rocket launches at an unprecedented rate, a mission every four days on average. ​in 2023.

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The company has launched about 4,000 Starlink satellites to date, and its network reached 1 million subscribers in December across a variety of product offerings β€” with services for residential, commercial, chauffeur, marine and aviation customers.

Last week, SpaceX adjusted pricing for Starlink’s residential service based on capacity requirements.