Starlink is a constellation of satellites by SpaceX, aiming to provide an internet connection to any place on Earth, particularly the remote areas where the internet is scarce. Its satellites are usually ferried into the low Earth orbit using Falcon 9 rockets of SpaceX.

However, Space News reported that there are proposed plans for changing the rockets used in delivering the satellites to space. Elon Musk's company is proposing its Starship rocket instead for the revised Starlink Gen2's plans.

 SpaceX Proposes to Use Starship for the Revised Starlink Gen2 Plans
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Starship SN9 sitting on the launch pad with the build site in the background ahead of its test flight.

Revised Starlink Gen2

On August 18, SpaceX filed two revised configurations with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for Starlink Gen2 to update its plan that was submitted in 2020.

The proposed revisions highlight the need to meet the growing demand for broadband connectivity and to leverage the advanced capabilities of Starship, which recently increased its capability of delivering more mass to orbit efficiently and quickly.

SpaceX mentioned in their proposal that they are suggesting two alternative system configurations for alternative system and satellite designs. Configuration 1 is SpaceX's preferred configuration in which they will evenly spread more satellites; they will nearly double their satellites and enable single plane launch campaigns.

On the other hand, Configuration 2 will use fewer satellites per plane than Configuration 1, yet will also spread capacity more evenly by latitude.

Additionally, Space News reported that the first configuration envisages using heavy-lift Starship rockets to launch Starlink satellites, while Falcon 9 will be used in the second configuration.

The revised scenarios for Starlink Gen 2 aim to spread satellites 9-12 inclined orbits to provide better polar internet connectivity to make the network's performance more consistent. This will benefit the rural subscribers, national security, and first responder customers.

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Why SpaceX Prefers Starship Rockets Configuration

According to Industry Update, SpaceX prefers the configuration with the heavy Starship rockets because satellites can be in service in just a few weeks rather than a couple of months after launch.

SpaceX said that they have been conducting upgrades in their Starship rockets and test flights at Boca Chica, Texas, and they believe that they will be perfect for sending 29,988 Starlink satellites at altitudes of 340-614 kilometers across nine inclined orbits. 

The company told FCC that revised Starlink Gen2 plans will ensure better and more consistent global coverage, doubling the number of satellites in orbit to fulfill demand times and services to polar regions like Alaska.

SpaceX also noted that Gen2 satellites will be larger than the past satellites, and they will generate more power than what was originally thought. They added that their analysis showed that Gen2 satellites will not interfere with other constellations nor increase the risk of collisions in space.

Currently, Elon Musk's space firm already has more than 1,600 Starlink satellites operating in low Earth orbit at an altitude of 550 kilometers. They are planning to send 42,000 satellites in space for their Starlink constellation.

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