With Starlink speeds slowing due to a growing capacity crunch, SpaceX said today’s launch will deploy the first “V2 Mini” satellites that provide four times the capacity of each satellite than previous versions.
The second generation of Starlink satellites includes the V2 Minis and the larger V2. Designed for the SpaceX Starship, the larger V2s aren’t quite ready for launch yet, but the V2 Minis are smaller, deployable versions of the Falcon 9 rocket.
“The V2 Minis are smaller than the V2 satellites (hence the name), but don’t let the name fool you,” SpaceX said in a statement provided to Ars yesterday. “The V2 Minis include more advanced graduated array antennas and use the E-band for backhaul, which will enable Starlink to deliver up to 4x more capacity per satellite than previous iterations.”
SpaceX has not specified the amount of data each V2 Mini satellite can provide, but its first-generation satellites are designed for a total downlink capacity of 17 to 23 Gbps per satellite. We’ve asked SpaceX for details on each satellite’s V2 Mini capacity and whether existing user stations installed in customers’ homes can take full advantage of the speed boosts, and we’ll update this article if we get a response.
The Federal Communications Commission recently granted SpaceX approval to launch 7,500 of its planned 30,000 second-generation satellites. The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch tentatively scheduled for today will put 21 V2 Minis into orbit.
“Space weather is an item to watch, with the launch window opening for two minutes around 6:13 PM ET (23:13 UTC)… If needed, a backup opportunity is available on Tuesday, February 28 at 1:49 p.m. ET (18:49 UTC),” SpaceX said.
Larger V2 satellites that cannot be launched until Starship is ready will be able to send signals directly to cell phones, a capability that SpaceX and T-Mobile will use in a partnership announced in August 2022.
Starlink speeds are dropping amid rising prices and data caps
It is likely that several launches will be required for the second generation satellites to have a noticeable impact on broadband performance. Starlink has it Approximately 3,700 first-generation satellites are in orbit, but speeds slowed as more users signed up. In large parts of the United States, people who want Starlink have to sign up for a Waiting list.
SpaceX has already imposed price changes that may be intended to manage capacity limits. Starlink last week notified residential users in “limited capacity” areas that the price of their monthly service would be raised from $110 to $120, while users in “excess capacity” areas would get a price cut and only pay $90 in the future. Starlink also has a new data cap where customers who exceed 1TB in any given month get slower speeds unless they pay extra for additional high-speed data.
Despite the name, the V2 Minis are larger and heavier than the first generation Starlink satellites weighing around 295kg each. “Each Starlink V2 Mini satellite weighs approximately 1,760 lb (800 kg) at launch, nearly three times heavier than older Starlink satellites,” Spaceflight Now says. mentioned. “It’s also much larger, with a spacecraft fuselage over 13 feet (4.1 meters) wide, and it fills more payload for the Falcon 9 rocket during launch.”
Compared to the 21 second-generation satellites scheduled to launch as soon as today, Starlink has managed to deploy about 60 satellites per launch with the smaller first-generation satellites.
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