The US space company SpaceX is preparing the second generation of its communications satellites for its global satellite internet. The “Gen2 System” is intended to complement the previous Starlink satellite network, but each new celestial body is heavier and more powerful than the first generation. SpaceX plans its new Starship for the transport into earth orbits, which can carry more and heavier loads per launch than the previously used Falcon 9 rocket.
That goes out of one SpaceX application to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the US regulator for telecommunications. The new satellites of the Gen2 system are intended to improve capacity and bandwidth, but use the same frequency spectrum as before. SpaceX wants to expand the Starlink network to a total of almost 30,000 satellites, which should orbit 340 to 614 kilometers around the earth.
So far there are 1,740 satellites in circulation, which were launched in November 2019 and currently supply around 90,000 customers in twelve countries with the Internet. Starlink can be booked for $ 99 per month as part of a beta program. SpaceX wants to enable internet access especially in rural and hard-to-reach regions, such as near the polar regions.
Starship for 400 satellites per launch
Since the new Starlink satellites are not only more powerful, but also larger and heavier than the first generation, SpaceX wants to bring them into space with its new Starship. Starship is said to transport 400 satellites per launch SpaceX had loudly CNBC declared for the presentation of his rocket in 2019. The previously used Falcon 9 rocket can only carry 60 Starlink satellites on each flight.
Starship has not yet been used commercially. It was recently put together for the first time as a test run for the next test flight to form the largest rocket in the world by setting the Starship to the first stage “Super Heavy”. After several test flights of Starship prototypes, number SN15 landed safely again in May after an ascent at an altitude of 10 kilometers. Later this year, a SpaceX Starship is slated to reach orbit and fly from Texas to Hawaii, where it is slated to plunge into the ocean.
Expansion options & accident prevention
Since the Gen2 system satellites are larger and generate more electricity, they are also suitable for other purposes, according to SpaceX. They could be equipped with additional sensors or antennas from other clients. In addition, the propulsion system of the new satellites is said to have been improved. This would enable them to evade better in the event of an impending collision with other celestial bodies. Retired satellites would steer back into the atmosphere and burn up.
With the increasing number of satellites on earth, orbit accidents seem hardly avoidable. Most recently, there were indications of the most violent satellite collision in over ten years, which took place a few months ago. What exactly happened is unclear. And according to experts, there have already been drastically more “near-collisions” due to Starlink. If two satellites come closer than a kilometer in orbit, it counts as a near collision. Their number has doubled since Starlink was set up.