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SpaceX just launched its first V2 Mini Starlink satellites

SpaceX launches the first of its higher capacity V2 Starlink satellites.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Image: Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images

SpaceX has launched the first set of its second generation Starlink satellites following recent authorization by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

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SpaceX launched 21 V2 Mini satellites on Tuesday from a Falcon 9 heavy rocket from Florida. It also stood down a launch of 51 Starlink Gen1 satellites from California due to unfavorable weather conditions. SpaceX chief Elon Musk confirmed V2 Mini satellites had reached orbit.  

The FCC in December issued SpaceX an authorization to launch 7,500 of 30,000 Gen2 Starlink satellites, which are approved to operate at altitudes of 525, 530, and 535 kilometers using frequencies in the Ku- and Ka-band. They also use E-band for backhaul. 

The second generation Starlink satellites come in two variants: the V2 Mini and larger full V2. The V2 satellites are compatible with Starship while the V2 Mini is compatible with the Falcon 9. Up to now, SpaceX has launched the first generation Starlink satellites in batches of between 50 and 60. 

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"The V2 satellites launched on Falcon 9 are a bit smaller, so we affectionately refer to them as "V2 Mini" satellites. But don't let the name fool you, a V2 Mini satellite has four times the capacity for serving users compared to its earlier counterparts," SpaceX said in an announcement.        

SpaceX hasn't said what the capacity is of each of its V2 Mini satellites. According to Ars Technica, the first generation were designed for an aggregate downlink capacity of 17 to 23Gbps each. So far, SpaceX has launched almost 4,000 satellites.  

According to Spaceflight Now, Starlink V2 Mini satellites weigh about 1,760 pounds (800 kilograms) each at launch, or three times the weight of older Starlink satellites. They're also much bigger at 13 feet (4.1 meters) wide. And once the solar array wings are opened in orbit, the satellites will span 100 feet (30 meters) versus 36 feet (11 meters) in the original. 

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