SpaceX hopes to launch its first group of second-generation Starlink satellites later this month. The possible launch comes just a few weeks after SpaceX was approved to launch 7,500 of their planned 30,000 second-generation Starlink satellites into orbit.
SpaceX revealed the plans in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday, where the aerospace company confirmed it begin launching the second-generation satellites before the end of December 2022.
“SpaceX currently anticipates that it will begin launching Gen2 satellites before the end of December 2022,” the filing reads. (via PCMag)
The filing did not provide a specific date, but SpaceX has one scheduled Starlink launch remaining for 2022, and that is currently set for December 28. SpaceX has not officially announced whether the payload on that Falcon 9 rocket will contain the second-generation satellites.
In addition to the launch, the company is requesting special authority for the new Gen2 satellites to communicate with the whole range of existing Starlink dishes.
“Granting this STA (special temporary authority) would serve the public interest by allowing users across America, especially those in underserved or unserved areas, to access the increased capacity for low-latency broadband services from SpaceX’s upgraded, next-generation NGSO system as soon as its satellites are deployed,” SpaceX says in the filing.
Elon Musk had previously stated that SpaceX would need Starship, a larger launch vehicle than Falcon 9, to bring the second-generation satellites to orbit. This was due to the larger size of the new satellites, which will provide faster speeds, have lower latency and can serve more people worldwide than the first generation.
The second generation satellites will also contain equipment to enable SpaceX and T-Mobile’s direct-to-cellular system that will enable cellular service in areas without current coverage. SpaceX filed earlier this month to equip 2,016 of their Gen2 satellites with this equipment, but launches of these satellites are not expected to begin until 2023.