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Musk: ‘Problems with some Starlinks’

March 24, 2023

Recently, SpaceX launched some second-generation Starlink satellites for its broadband-by-satellite system. However, Elon Musk has confirmed it has problems with at least some of the satellites.

On March 22nd Musk tweeted that there were “some issues” with the set of Starlink satellites launched February 27th, confirming industry speculation that some satellites had their orbits changed.

“Lot of new technology in Starlink V2, so we’re experiencing some issues, as expected,” he tweeted, adding that “Some sats will be deorbited, others will be tested thoroughly before raising altitude above Space Station.”

The launch carried 21 satellites (in the Group 6-1 mission) into orbits of almost 370 kms. But their normal orbit raising procedures were seemingly halted at about 380 kms. The International Space Station orbits at about 415-420 kms.

To date there has been no further comment from Musk or Starlink, but observers had reported that the batch of 21 had seen their orbits decreased to about 365 kms.

The 6-1 mission were the first of SpaceX’s ‘V2 Mini’ craft which are much larger that the first-generation satellites. SpaceX has now launched more than 4000 of these V1 craft. The V2 Mini craft weigh around 800 kgs each and carry a solar array of some 12.8 metres in length. The V1 craft weigh just 300 kgs and have one solar array of 8 metres.

The V2 Mini craft are themselves ‘cut down’ versions of a ‘full V2’ model which will weigh some 2000 kgs and have solar panels of about 20 metres and are significantly more powerful. But their size means they have to wait to be carried within SpaceX’s new Starship rocket, itself waiting for FAA permission to launch from its South Texas launch site.

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