SpaceX is preparing for its Starlink Group 6-26 mission, where it will launch 23 Starlink v2 Mini satellites using a Falcon 9 rocket. The launch is scheduled to take place at Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, at 22:30 UTC on November 3, 2023.
Starlink is a satellite constellation developed by SpaceX to provide fast and low-latency internet service. The constellation is designed to offer reliable internet access in areas where traditional ground-based internet is unreliable, unavailable, or expensive. The upcoming mission will mark the 118th operational Starlink mission and will bring the total number of Starlink satellites launched to 5,399.
Each Starlink v2 Mini satellite weighs approximately 307 kg and features a compact design. SpaceX has optimized the satellites’ flat-panel design to maximize the number of satellites that can fit in the payload fairing of the Falcon 9 rocket. This allows SpaceX to launch up to 60 satellites at once while still being able to recover the first stage.
The satellites are equipped with advanced communication technology, including four phased array antennas and two parabolic antennas to ensure high-bandwidth and low-latency communication. They also utilize an inter-satellite laser communication system, which enables direct communication between satellites without relying on ground stations. This feature allows for global coverage, including the Earth’s poles, with fewer ground stations.
To ensure the safety of the satellites, they are equipped with an autonomous collision avoidance system that uses the US Department of Defense debris tracking database to avoid collisions with other objects in space.
The Starlink v2 Mini satellites are part of SpaceX’s larger Starlink v2 program, which is intended for deployment using the Starship launch vehicle. These larger satellites will provide even higher speeds and more bandwidth, and they are expected to revolutionize worldwide cell phone coverage.
In the meantime, while waiting for the Starship launch vehicle to become available, SpaceX is launching the Starlink v2 Mini satellites using the Falcon 9 rocket. These satellites have a more powerful phased array antenna and utilize the E-band for backhaul, which allows them to provide four times more capacity than the previous versions of Starlink satellites.
With each new Starlink launch, SpaceX brings us closer to having reliable and accessible internet service around the world, while also paving the way for future space exploration and colonization, such as the ambitious Starship program and Mars Base Alpha.