SpaceX Wants to Launch Second Generation Starlinks This Year
SpaceX is trying to push the debut of its second-generation Starlink satellites through the end of the month in hopes that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will give it temporary approval to loft its beefier broadband satellites.
The aerospace company filed an application with the FCC this week, asking for a 60-day special temporary authorization to connect Starlink terminals already in use to the new satellites it plans to launch soon, SpaceNews first reported.
According to the regulatory filing, SpaceX plans to begin launching the Gen2 “before the end of December 2022.” If the FCC grants SpaceX the temporary approval, the company could begin launching its Gen2 Starlink satellites before the commission grants its long-term approval.
SpaceX recently launched a batch of 54 Starlink satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket, bringing the number of satellites launched to date to a total of 3,600, of which 3,284 are said to be currently operational statistics collected by astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell. However, CEO Elon Musk is excited for the next-generation satellites to reach orbit, a move the company hopes will help it meet rising demand for its internet services.
Earlier this month, the FCC approved SpaceX’s request to launch 7,500 Gen2 into low Earth orbit. The company had applied to launch 29,988 Starlink satellites, but the FCC only approved a quarter of the total. The reason the Commission is withholding these remaining 22,488 satellites is to “protect other satellite and terrestrial operators from harmful interference and maintain a safe space environment, promote competition and protect spectrum and orbit resources for future use.” the FCC said in its order.
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The Gen2 are designed to be more efficient, measuring 22 feet (7 meters) and weighing about 2,755 pounds (1,250 kg) compared to their predecessors about 573 pounds (260 kilograms). Due to the larger and heavier payload, SpaceX relied on its upcoming Starship rocket to launch the Gen2s, as opposed to its Falcon 9 rocket, which is currently launching the first generation Starlinks into orbit.
With the date of Starship’s maiden flight currently unknown, SpaceX is attempting to prioritize the launch of its Gen2, even if necessary modified to fit in a Falcon 9. in one Letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Aug. 19, the company said it will downsize its next-generation Internet satellites to fit on the Falcon 9 rocket.
The company is apparently doing everything it can to see these Gen2s fly, but there aren’t that many days left in the year. From the looks of it, SpaceX is poised to launch an Israeli Earth imaging satellite on December 29, but as the Next Spaceflight mention, thatthe Falcon 9 flight with the Gen2s on board could take off on December 28 – subject to FCC approval, of course.
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SpaceX is already pushing into low Earth orbit with its Starlink satellites, and the next-generation satellites have done so Astronomers even more concerned about how the Starlink constellation could interfere with observations of the night sky. Hopefully by launch, SpaceX will have found ways to dim the brightness of its satellite constellation so it doesn’t block our view of the cosmos.
More: Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites are already giving astronomers a headache
https://gizmodo.com/spacex-second-generation-starlink-falcon-9-this-year-1849920161 SpaceX Wants to Launch Second Generation Starlinks This Year