After scrubbing Monday’s Crew-6 launch due to a last-minute technical glitch with the ground systems at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, SpaceX moved ahead with the launch of another Falcon 9 rocket from the same launch facility, carrying into orbit another batch of satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband service.
However, these ones are different to the several thousand Starlink satellites that are already circling Earth.
That’s because they sport a more modern and powerful design that gives them four times the capacity for serving customers compared to the original design, SpaceX said. So, yes, it means faster internet speeds for customers.
SpaceX chief Elon Musk confirmed the successful deployment of the new satellites in a tweet.
The updated design actually comes in two variants, the V2 Mini and the larger V2. The V2 is compatible with SpaceX’s more powerful though yet-to-fly Starship rocket, while the smaller V2 Mini, which headed to space on Tuesday, is designed to launch with SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket.
SpaceX has been launching the first-generation Starlink satellites in batches of around 60, but for the first launch of the upgraded satellites it sent up 21.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave SpaceX permission in December to begin launching up to 7,500 of the newer Starlink satellites, though eventually, the company wants to send as many as 30,000 into orbit.
Since 2019, SpaceX has launched almost 4,000 satellites for the provision of high-speed internet to more than 1 million customers globally, most of which are households.
While the service is aimed primarily at folks living in areas with little-to-no broadband access, customers in better-served locations are also signing up.