On December 28, 2022, the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle launched into low Earth orbit the first 54 Starlink satellites of the new generation, so-called v2.0 or Gen2.
The launch took place at 11:34 Kyiv time from the SLC-40 launch pad of the US Air Force Base at Cape Canaveral. This is the 60th successful SpaceX mission since the beginning of 2022.
Starlink v2.0 satellites have several different configurations depending on the launch vehicle. Initially, it was assumed that the new satellites would be launched by Starship, so their size and mass should be several times larger than those of previous versions – 2000 kg against 260 and 295 kg in versions 1.0 and 1.5. But SpaceX’s super-heavy rocket is a bit delayed, so for now Starlink v2.0 is carried by the good old Falcon 9. The mass of such satellites is 303 kg, and the dimensions are almost the same as in v1.5.
The main difference of Starlink v2.0 is a larger antenna and increased bandwidth of each satellite. In addition, they, like the v1.5 devices, have a laser communication system between satellites, and can communicate directly with ordinary mobile terminals. At least by smartphones of T-Mobile subscribers, thanks to technology from Swarm Technologies and T-Mobile. Further improvements in v2.0 include reducing the brightness of the satellites (something SpaceX scientists have long demanded), thanks to the use of a dielectric mirror film.
SpaceX currently has 3,604 operational Starlink satellites in orbit. The planned total number of satellites reaches 12,000 with the possibility of further expansion to 42,000.