With Starlink slowing down due to capacity pressure, SpaceX said today’s launch will deploy its first ‘V2 mini’ satellite, offering four times the capacity per satellite of its predecessor.
Starlink’s second-generation satellites include the V2 Mini and the larger V2. While his larger V2 was designed for the SpaceX Starship, which is not yet ready for launch, the V2 Mini is a slimmed-down version that can be deployed from a Falcon 9 rocket.
“The V2 Mini is smaller (hence the name) than the V2 satellite, but don’t let the name fool you,” SpaceX said in a statement provided to Ars yesterday. and use of the E-band for backhaul, which will allow Starlink to offer up to four times more capacity per satellite than previous iterations.”
SpaceX hasn’t specified how much 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 asked SpaceX about the per-satellite capacity of the V2 Mini and whether current user terminals in customer homes can take full advantage of the increased speed. We will update this article when we get an answer.
The Federal Communications Commission recently approved SpaceX to launch 7,500 of its planned 30,000 second-generation satellites. The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch, tentatively scheduled for today, will launch 21 V2 Minis into orbit.
The large V2 satellite, which won’t launch until Starship is ready, will be able to send signals directly to mobile phones, a feature used by SpaceX and T-Mobile in a partnership announced in August 2022.
Starlink slows down amid price hikes and data caps
It may take many launches for second-generation satellites to have a noticeable impact on broadband performance. Starlink is about 3,700 first-generation satellites in orbit but it slowed down as more users signed up.
SpaceX has already imposed price changes that may have been intended to manage capacity limits. Starlink last week notified residential users in the “limited capacity” area that the monthly service fee will be raised from $110 to $120, while users in the “excess capacity” area will be reduced in price, and from now on will pay only $90. Starlink also has a new data cap that in any given month over 1 TB customers will be slow unless they pay extra for extra high-speed data.
Despite their name, the V2 Minis are larger and heavier than the first-generation Starlink satellites, which weigh around 295 kilograms each. “Each Starlink V2 Mini satellite weighs about 1,760 pounds (800 kilograms) at launch, nearly three times the weight of the older Starlink satellites.” Spaceflight Now reports “It’s also larger, with the spacecraft body being over 13 feet (4.1 meters) wide, filling more of the Falcon 9 rocket’s payload fairing at launch”.
Starlink has been able to deploy about 60 satellites per launch, compared to the 21 second-generation satellites scheduled to launch soon today.