SpaceX has released details and images of its next Starlink V2 Mini satellite, which is scheduled to launch for the first time on Monday, February 27.
New satellites are the future of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites, and the information the company has released helps to show why.
SpaceX’s mysteriously named Starlink 6-1 spacecraft will carry the first 21 Starlink V2 satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) at 1:38 pm EST (18:38 UTC) on Monday, February 27 . The satellites will operate under SpaceX’s Starlink Gen2 FCC license, which currently allows the company to launch up to 7,500 of its 29,998 satellites. As it continues to replenish its 4,408 Starlink Gen1 small satellites with V1.5 small satellites, SpaceX has already begun launching V1.5 small satellites under the Gen2 license.
In the end, these smaller and smaller satellites can be replaced by larger V2 satellites, but SpaceX has stated that it has decided that quickly increasing the capacity is better than waiting for a better solution. In theory, the best solution is the large Starlink V2 satellites. As discussed in a previous FCC filing, SpaceX intends to operate three types of Starlink satellites in the Starlink Gen2 group. The first variant may be similar to the approximately 305 kg (~673 lb) Starlink V1.5 satellite that contains most of its Starlink Gen1 satellites.
Meanwhile, SpaceX has already built and delivered dozens of Starlink V2 satellites to Starbase, Texas. Those best-in-class satellites reportedly weigh anywhere from 1.25-2 tons (2750-4400 lb) each, offer about 10 times more bandwidth than V1.5 satellites, and are larger and be profitable so that SpaceX’s next Starship can launch them. rocket. Starship is very slow, however, so SpaceX has chosen to develop a third variant of the Starlink satellite that combines many of the V2’s advanced features into a package that SpaceX’s current Falcon 9 rocket can launch.
Before SpaceX’s tweets of February 26, all that was known about those Starlink “V2 Mini” satellites was a few included in the response to the FCC. The latest information provided by SpaceX appears to confirm some of these specifications. For example, knowing that the Falcon 9 will carry 21 V2 Mini satellites and that the rocket currently weighs 17.4 tons, each V2 Mini satellite can weigh more than 830 kilograms (~1830 lb). This is close to the estimated 800 kg given in October 2022.
More importantly, SpaceX has revealed that each Starlink V2 Mini satellite will have more powerful antennas and access to a new set of frequencies. Combined, each satellite will have up to “~4x … more power than previous developments” such as Starlink V1. Compared to the current V1.5 satellite, this means that Starlink V2 Mini can squeeze around 50% more network capacity from each satellite unit. As a result, although the larger V2 Mini design reduces the number of satellites the Falcon 9 can launch by about three times, the 21 V2 Mini satellites it can launch will add ~50% more bandwidth than the ~57 V1 satellites. 5 he will get. otherwise launched.
The larger satellite means that it will take three Falcon 9 launches to expand Starlink V2 taking a photobut closed areas will be able to serve many times more customers or deliver more bandwidth to the number of customers.
SpaceX has also announced that it has developed a new Hall Hall propulsion system for the Starlink V2 spacecraft. To avoid the high cost of xenon propellant, the most common choice of fuel for electric propulsion systems, SpaceX has already developed the first krypton Hall effect for the Starlink V1 and V1.5 spacecraft. Spread over about 4000 Starlink V1.x satellites SpaceX launched since May 2019, the low price of krypton (about $ 500-1500 / kg vs. $ 3000-10,000 + / kg of xenon) probably saved the company hundreds millions of dollars.
Converting from krypton to argon can be beneficial. As for krypton, the argon needed to power the Starlink V2 satellite will be virtually free. 99.999%-pure argon can be purchased in small quantities for $5 to $17 per kilogram, and each Starlink V2 Mini satellite will require less than 80 kilograms. SpaceX probably spent about $50 million ( +/- $25M) on krypton for the approximately 4000 Starlink V1 satellites launched to date. As a result, even if each Starlink V2 satellite requires 200 kilograms of excess argon, which will fuel its future constellation of about 30,000 V2 satellites, SpaceX could spend. A little more than satellite 4000 V1.
Tune in below at 1:30 pm EST (18:30 UTC) to watch SpaceX’s Starlink V2 launch live.
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