The next launch, operated by SpaceX as part of the Starlink constellation, may include the company’s second-generation satellites. This will be the first.
An authorization for the launch of 7,500 Starlink Gen2
Since 2019, SpaceX has regularly sent its Starlink satellites into orbit to complete its constellation of thousands of units. Aim: to provide a high-speed internet network to the most remote areas of the world, although this has evolved over time as the company has expanded its products by selling services to individuals, businesses, motorhomes, shipping companies and airlines. SpaceX now has more than 3,300 operational satellites in Earth orbit.
For some time, however, the network has been slowed down due to far too great a demand compared to the supply. The company registers more than 1 million active users against only 250,000 in March. This may soon change: on December 1, the company obtained the right to launch 7,500 Gen2 satellites from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the US telecommunications regulator. In its application, SpaceX hoped to get approval to deploy 30,000.
The Gen2 satellites are larger than the previous models and therefore have ten times the capacity compared to the latter. If these units were not initially supposed to be deployed by a Falcon 9 launch vehicle, SpaceX finally made the decision to upgrade them so this is the case; development of the Starship, a much heavier launch vehicle, is still ongoing. The company plans to launch most of these Gen2 satellites using this rocket.
According to the specialized media SpaceNews, the first launch of Starlink Gen2 could take place as early as December 28. In a recent filing with the FCC, SpaceX said it actually plans to begin launching Starlink Gen2 devices by the end of 2022.
According to Elon Musk, Starlink Gen2 satellites will be able to transmit services directly to smartphones. In particular, they will allow the company to operate its Starshield service. Recently unveiled, it aims to offer satellite internet service for military use to governments.