SpaceX Pushing Ahead With Bigger, Faster Starlink and Bigger Starship

SpaceX notified the FCC SpaceX that Starship could be ready to launch Starlink Gen2 System satellites as early as March, 2022. The FCC notification is that SpaceX will focus on the configuration of 12000 generation 1 satellites that will work best with 30,000 generation 2 satellite. Previously, SpaceX was hedging its bets and had a second configuration but now SpaceX is confidently proceeding with generation 2 satellite plan.

SpaceX would start launching the generation 2 Starlink satellites on Falcon 9 Starship rockets. SpaceX has been launching 60 generation 1 Starlink satellites with each Falcon 9 rocket. The current Starship launch vehicle will be capable of deploying up to 400 Starlink satellites during a single launch which will enable SpaceX to build the constellation at a much faster rate to rapidly expand internet service coverage. SpaceX could stretch the Starship and add engines which would increase the payload to orbit from 100-150 tons up to 220 tons. The Starship will not be ready to launch Starlink satellites until 2023.

Any early Falcon 9 launches in 2022 will likely be test gen 2 satellites that will not be part of the main constellation. The letter to the FCC indicates that SpaceX will commit to Starship deployment of Gen 2.

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.

A Spacex Starship capable of launching 100-150 tons (~220,000-330,000 lb) to the low Earth orbits could launch about 120 Gen 2 satellites – each weighing approximately 850-1250 kg. Current generation 1 Starlink satellites weigh 260 kilograms. This is 15.6 tons for the satellites and extra weight for the booster and other gear needed to deploy the satellites. A Falcon 9 can launch about 22.6 tons to low earth orbit.

Elon Musk says that future Starships – or at least certain Starship variants – are being upgraded with 50% more Raptor engines and stretched propellant tanks. This will increase engines from 6 to 9. SpaceX will also increase fuel to about 300 tons. This will enable a larger Starship and Superheavy to launch 220 tons to orbit instead of 150 tons. The nine raptor engine Starship could launch 180 generation 2 satellites with each launch.

SOURCES- Tesmanian, FCC, SpaceX
Written By Brian Wang,

27 thoughts on “SpaceX Pushing Ahead With Bigger, Faster Starlink and Bigger Starship”

  1. I doubt that would work. If SpaceX were made a public company, I think it likely that shareholders would still be able to cut off Mars colonization efforts. Even if there were a separate non-profit that was willing to pay SpaceX to develop things needed for Mars colonization, SpaceX investors would pressure SpaceX to put its money and effort into projects that would be more profitable and profitable quicker. Maybe there would be a way to make it work that I'm not clever enough to see.

  2. Mr. Wang, the main reason of Starlink is militar, Space Force is F A S C I N A T E D of the possibilities this can bring nto de XXI century warfare scenario.

  3. Probably because SpaceX doesn't have that same US govmt pride of place as the military budget sucking corps like Lockheed, Boeing, Northrop etc do.

    Falcon 9 has done well but companies can start off well and then flounder when they risk too much to grow further.

    If SpaceX stands the test of time they may earn the benefit of a doubt – but likely at the cost of the govmt holding a leash round the companies neck.

  4. They have to carefully comb through thousands of Facebook/Twitter offended messages and a lot of greenie's anti-SpaceX hatemail, plus the thousands of crazy fanmail, to know how they really feel about allowing the launch.

    Let no feelings go hurt.

    I'm sure China will wait for them.

    Edit: I'm being snarky, of course, but why isn't enabling this capability a national urgency?

  5. I wonder if there's any way to arrange for any shares to be purchased only by people who do favor Mars colonization? Or to set up a Mars colonization charitable foundation to pay for it, so that actions internal to SpaceX would meet the standards of fiduciary responsibility towards stock holders? (Not that those are often enforced.)

  6. And it may never. SpaceX is pushing ahead with Starship, and resources will likely be pulled from Falcon 9 advancements.

  7. Yeah, SpaceX would live, but the Mars dream would be basically dead.

    Comes to show that following the most reasonable and pragmatic decisions don't always produce the best possible outcomes, just mediocre ones.

    Which isn't necessarily bad, except if you hold dear the long term survival of civilization.

  8. In first stretch mode, maybe. Do you think it is likely that he'll stop with the first expanded version of Starship? I imagine he will keep trying to build larger and larger versions, at a pretty fast rate.

    But even if he stops with the first stretched version of Starship, and if he can make it be fully reusable, 167 flights could be completed in only a little over 3 years if he could do one flight per week. He's aiming for even shorter times between flights. Also, he could be doing flights using three or four sets of hardware in parallel, further reducing the elapsed time to make 167 flights.

    I'm not going to say that he'll definitely be able to do all of that, but I believe that is the scale of capability he is aiming for. And I wouldn't put very much money down in a bet against Musk. He might not reach all of those goals, but the goals are so large, that even if he comes close to reaching them, he'll probably win big.

  9. I expect that Musk would try anything else before making SpaceX a public corporation. That probably would kill the effort to quickly colonize Mars, which I believe is Musk's main purpose for SpaceX. I'm pretty sure most of the investors would not support the Mars colonization effort, and would quickly take control of the company away from Musk, so it could concentrate on more practical projects. I hope Musk never is pushed far enough to decide to make SpaceX a public corporation.

  10. The thing is engineers, more than venture capitalists, know that things don't always work the first time.

  11. Not at all. He intends for them to be cheaply mass produced, gas n’ go rapidly reusable, very reliable as a consequence of a lot of iterative development and modular so they can easily be specialized for lunar, Mars, robotic planetary missions, deploying Starlink, deploying any satellite, servicing a space station – etc. The shuttle was intended to be a truck but took months and a billion dollars to partially reuse every time – so it failed at that. Starship is intended to succeed at that and many other things.

  12. Yes, probably. But don't underestimate the value of public trust on a company's results and its ability to recruit investors. And a lot of SpaceX's results come from the sacrifice of young engineers thinking they are doing something that matters, not just getting an easy buck.

    A string of big failures and lawsuits can put an end to that trust and employee's willingness.

  13. Ah.. SpaceX would survive even if they would have a delay in both. It's a very successful company and there would be *plenty* of investors lining up for a chance to put their money into the company.

  14. Webb was designed for the Ariane faring. You are waaay over-thinking this. Falcon 9 Heavy could easily place the Webb's tonnage into the desired orbit. Falcon 9 and Heavy have launched payloads to escape many times.

  15. Falcon Heavy threw a Tesla Roadster past Mars on its first test flight, so it likely could have sent Webb on its way. It has only flown in that configuration three times, so it doesn't have the track record of Ariane 5 yet.

  16. Would SpaceX even have been able to compete though? It's reliability to date does not match the Arianne, at least due to lesser number of flights, and could the final stage even travel a million miles to the L2 orbit?

  17. The urgency to deploy Starlink is a make it or break it deal for SpaceX and Starship.

    They just need Starship to deploy the bigger, faster newer Starlink satellites.

    And they need it often, to ensure the needed amounts of satellites are launched to orbit on time. Failing that, they will fail to capture a bigger market and it can go into bankruptcy, like several other space Internet projects before, dragging other of Musk's projects with it.

    That's why Musk seems willing to launch it even in disposable mode. A mass produced expendable rocket with 220 tons of payload could still make things work, not as well as with reusable, but well enough to kickstart Starlink v2 and fund the rocket's development.

    Immensely complex and high risk isn't an exaggeration.

  18. The reason was a barter agreement worked out between NASA and ESA before SpaceX had flown so much as a Falcon 1. Starship wasn't even yet a distant dream at that time.

  19. The Webb Arianne deal was made more than a decade ago, before SpaceX landed a booster, when they were just an interesting blip in the space launcher business.

    These big launch deals are done way before anything reaches orbit.

    Even if someone in the government wanted to launch something in Starship today (e.g. the Luvoir crowd), it will be several years, maybe more than a decade before we see anything launch.

    Edit: the deal was reached in 2004…

  20. Yea, it was launched on an Arianne because that deal was made like a decade ago, when JWST was supposed to launch.

  21. The need to refuel in orbit will be there for basically any chemical rocket, unless you limit yourself to tiny payloads; Chemistry just isn't very powerful compared to Earth's gravity.

    His plan is to make orbital refueling routine. At least until we can transition to the use of nuclear rocketry in space, which he isn't going to talk about much because he's already got the watermelons at his throat despite being a leader in electric cars and solar power.

  22. This, and the limited range of the so-called starships, makes it pretty clear that Musk intends for these to be space trucks like the shuttle, not truly planet-going or even Moon-going rockets. The need to re-fuel once in orbit will handicap the starships for a long time, and increase the need for reliability which is just not there yet. There's a reason the Webb telescope was launched on the more reliable Arianne rocket instead.

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