1st batch of SpaceX's Gen2 Starlink satellites has just been delivered to LEO

The first launch of SpaceX's next-generation "Gen2" Starlink satellites has gone off without a hitch. This will be the first of many over the coming months.
Christopher McFadden
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX/YouTube 

At 4:34 am Eastern Standard Time (09:34 Greenwich Mean Time), a Falcon 9 rocket at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in coastal Florida blasted off with a Starlink 5-1 group satellite fleet onboard. These satellites are the first generation 2 (Gen2) versions of the SpaceX internet satellites.

"This launch marks the first of Starlink's upgraded network. Under our new license, we [can now] deploy satellites to new orbits that will add even more capacity to the network," SpaceX explained in its mission description.

"Ultimately, this enables us to add more customers and provide faster service — particularly in currently over-subscribed areas," SpaceX added.

The launch went off without a hitch, partially thanks to favorable weather, and SpaceX is still monitoring the situation for its sea rocket booster recovery. The success of this mission now helps with SpaceX's plans to launch 60 times in 2022, surpassing the previous record of 31 flights achieved in 2021.

You can watch the launch for yourself in the video link below.

In a typical Starlink launch, the Falcon 9 rocket sends the Starlinks to low Earth orbit, and then the first stage touches down about eight minutes later atop a drone ship. This launch will aim to touch down on the boat, currently located in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida's coast. 

This mission marks the 11th flight for the Falcon 9 first stage.

According to SpaceX, the booster carried two private astronaut crews on the Inspiration4 and Ax-1 missions and launched two American GPS satellites and five Starlink missions.

The Gen2 Starlink satellites offer some advantages over their predecessors

It is also claimed that Gen2 of Starlink is more potent than the 3,300 or so already in space, and it looks like SpaceX needs the bandwidth increase. Despite launching hundreds of first-generation Starlink satellites this year, the internet network is experiencing congestion problems, according to a recent SpaceNews report.

According to SpaceX, Gen2 will have new functions like direct-to-smartphone services and greater room for Starlink users. The FCC is still reviewing SpaceX's overall plan to expand the Gen2 system greatly.

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Also, according to SpaceX, new upgrades to its Starlink Gen 2 satellites will simplify the work of astronomers all over the world. The upgrades consider how Starlink satellites reflect sunlight as they orbit the Earth.

If the Starlink satellites work as well as SpaceX claims, they will be "invisible to the human eye while at their average operational height."

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized SpaceX to launch 7,500 Gen2 satellites on December 1. However, it was only a partial approval, as SpaceX had requested authorization from the FCC to launch almost 30,000 of these satellites into low Earth orbit.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, has stated that Gen2 satellites can beam service directly to smartphones in addition to handling greater traffic. SpaceX eventually intends to launch its enormous Starship rocket, which is currently under production and has been waiting for approval to fly to space for 18 months, in place of this harvest, which is traveling into space on a Falcon 9.