In February, SpaceX launched a group of 21 Starlink V2 Mini satellites, which, as the company explained, had four times more power than their previous generation. Starlink V2 Mini was created as a trial version before full-size V2 satellites. But it seems that they are starting to lose altitude, because they have not reached the planned orbit.
One of the mini-satellites, designated as 30062, was seen burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere. The incident was witnessed by Harvard-Smithsonian University astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell. He monitors space launches and orbital objects.
Three of the Starlink V2Mini sats (30058, 30042, 30051) have resumed orbit raising, while Starliink 30062 reentered at 0850 UTC Apr 3 off the coast of California pic.twitter.com/viv6daE4Gv
— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) April 3, 2023
The first signs of the problem were noticed in March by an unofficial Starlink Insider account dedicated to the SpaceX enterprise. Then a publication appeared on Twitter that the mini V2 began to descend from orbit instead of rising to a height. Then McDowell expressed the opinion that there was probably an error with the Starlink V2 Mini that they did not reach the specified orbit. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, subsequently responded to McDowell, confirming that the Mini V2 was indeed “experiencing some problems“.
“Some satellites will be taken out of orbit, and others will be thoroughly checked before going into orbit above the ISS,” Musk added.
Mini-satellites should become the first conductors of the second generation of SpaceX V2 satellites to strengthen the orbital communication network. Last year, the aerospace company received approval from the Federal Communications Commission to launch the first 7,500 second-generation satellites. SpaceX, however, does not yet have the ability to launch its V2. At least until its advertised Starship is ready. However, this may take some time, since SpaceX’s flagship spacecraft has not yet made its first orbital launch, let alone an actual mission.
Undoubtedly, Musk is eager to launch full-size V2 into orbit, as customers complain that the Starlink Internet connection has recently become slow and unstable. Some astronomers may even enjoy some schadenfreude from the burning of the satellite, as Starlink quickly becomes their mortal enemies due to the distortion of photographs.
Earlier we reported on how Starlink offered its users global roaming.
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