Version 2 Starlink with Lasers and Gen 2 SpaceX Starlink Bigger and Faster

SpaceX has launched the first Starlink v1.5 satellites which have laser communication between satellites. Starlink v2.0 satellites will also launch within the next three months in 2021. Version 2.0 satellites will be significantly more capable. SpaceX will transition to Gen2 satellites which will be larger and much faster.

SpaceX started launching v1.5 Starlink satellites with laser communication that will reduce latency to about 10-20 milliseconds versus 17 milliseconds for fiber. Space laser communication is 40% faster because of light speed in vacuum vs fiber. Anything over 3000 miles has less latency via Starlink. SpaceX will put up Gen2 satellite network with satellites 850-1000 kilogram with up to 80 gbps capacity per satellite versus 18 gbps in current version 1. ~30,000 satellite Starlink Gen2 constellation as proposed would have a total instantaneous bandwidth of at least 500 terabits per second (Tbps) over land (~1800 Tbps including ocean coverage). As of 2020, the total installed bandwidth of global internet infrastructure was estimated to be 600 Tbps.

Laser-enabled Starlink will be able to help other satellites communicate where there are no available ground stations. Various countries and polar regions have no ground stations or sparse ground stations.

Laser communication will mean that there will be almost no need for ground station communication to relay the data.

This will reduce the latency.

SpaceX Starlink has had about 20-88 millisecond latency and over 100 Mbps data speeds.

The increased satellites and laser communication between satellites will reduce latency to about 10-20 milliseconds and data speeds will increase to about 1 Gbps.

SpaceX says Starship will launch Starlink Gen2 satellites on a single ‘plane’ basis (meaning one plane per launch). They will be several times larger than version 1 satellites. Assuming Starship is capable of launching 100-150 tons (~220,000-330,000 lb) to the low Earth orbits Starlink Gen2 is targeting, each Starship will launch up to 120 satellites – each weighing approximately 850-1250 kg. SpaceX’s original June 2020 Gen2 filing implied that the next generation of Starlink satellites would have up to three times the maximum bandwidth of existing V1.0 satellites (~50+ Gbps).

Gen 2 satellites seem to be different from version 2 Starlink satellites. Version 2 satellites have laser communication and other improvements but are not vastly larger in size.

Future Starlink satellites will likely weigh around one ton (~2200 lb) each, be capable of a maximum individual bandwidth of some 60-80 Gbps, and have solar arrays capable of supplying something like 15-20 kilowatts to power an army of antennas. If SpaceX ultimately wins FCC approval, the ~30,000 satellite Starlink Gen2 constellation as proposed would have a total instantaneous bandwidth of at least 500 terabits per second (Tbps) over land (~1800 Tbps including ocean coverage). As of 2020, the total installed bandwidth of global internet infrastructure was estimated to be 600 Tbps.

As part of the 2020 NGSO Processing Round initiated by the International Bureau, SpaceX filed an application requesting authority to deploy and operate its Gen2 System, an NGSO satellite system in the Fixed-Satellite Service (“FSS”) using Ku-band, Ka-band, and E-band frequencies.4This Gen2 System was designed to complement the first-generation constellation SpaceX is currently deploying, which is already delivering truly high-speed, low-latency broadband across the United States—including to the most remote corners and Polar Regions of the country that too often get overlooked and left behind. While that constellation provides unprecedented capacity for a satellite system, the past year and a half have demonstrated the extraordinary need for even more connectivity. Accordingly, just as terrestrial wireless operators are deploying millions of new antennas as part of densified 5G networks to meet these needs in more urban environments, SpaceX proposed this new densified satellite constellation to substantially increase capacity drive up the number of consumers even in rural and remote areas that will have access to truly robust broadband, albeit with many fewer antennas than those deployed by terrestrial operators.

SpaceX can leverage its powerful Starship launch vehicle, the next-generation heavy lift rocket that will be able to deliver more satellites to orbit at one time and to place them in a way that will facilitatefaster activation. SpaceX has combined this additional satellite and launch capability with a more robust understanding of demand, enabling a plan to better position satellites meet people’s real needs for broadband on the ground. But because development of either satellites or the launch vehicle may accelerate faster than anticipated, SpaceX has developed plans leveraging different launch capabilities.

Competing Satellite Constellations

OneWeb satellite constellation — a satellite constellation project that began operational deployment of satellites in 2020. In 1 July 2021, OneWeb launched a further 36 satellites, to take its in-orbit mega-constellation to 254. OneWeb is the second largest satellite fleet in orbit. OneWeb went bankrupt in 2020. Oneweb had peak data speeds of 400Mbps and an average latency of 32ms.
Viasat, Inc. — a current broadband satellite provider providing fixed, ground mobile, and airborne antennas.
O3b – Medium Earth orbit constellation that provides access to mobile phone operators and internet service providers. It covers only the equatorial region.
China national satellite internet project — a planned satellite internet offering for the Chinese market.
Kuiper Systems – a planned 3236 LEO satellite Internet constellation by an Amazon subsidiary.

SOURCES- Wikipedia, FCC, spaceX
Written by Brian Wang,