Elon Musk is touting the upcoming new satellites of his giant constellation to connect to the internet. But their launch is not guaranteed and their putting into orbit… risky.
Bigger, more powerful and with more range. Elon Musk is not short of superlatives to describe the next satellites of his Starlink constellation. He gave some technical details about them during an interview with the Everyday Astronaut show on YouTube.
These new generation satellites will have a completely different scale, since they will be 7 meters long and will weigh 1.25 tonnes (!) compared to 260 kilos currently. There is currently only one well-guarded prototype at the Boca Chica base in Texas. According to Elon Musk, this imposing size would be a guarantee of additional capacity. However, he did not specify whether he was referring to bandwidth or throughput.
The Starship launcher in suspense
But these new satellites also pose new challenges. To begin, we will have to succeed in putting them into orbit in batches of fifty. Impossible for SpaceX’s current Falcon 9 rockets, which are not massive enough. Everything is therefore based on the future Starship launcher, currently in development, and which has taken a lot of delay.
The FAA (Federation Aviation Administration) is evaluating the impact of the program on its environment and is due to submit a report this month. His approval is not won, NASA officials having already expressed their reservations about it. There would indeed be risks of collision with other satellites and spacecraft of the agency. Satellites could also affect astronomers’ ability to detect asteroids.
To date, 2000 Starlink satellites have already been sent since 2019 and 1600 are operational. SpaceX has permission from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to launch 12,000 more. But the commission must first give the green light for the commissioning of Starship. This should be the case by this summer.
Everyday Astronaut (Youtube)