SpaceX Starlink Group 6-1 Launch

SpaceX plans to launch 21 Starlink V2 mini satellites into Generation 2 Group 6 on 2023-02-27 at 23:13 UTC. The launch will be from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The first stage booster, B1076, will be making its third flight, after a turnaround time of 48 days since its last mission. The operational orbit will be 530 km circular at 43°.

This will be the first launch of Starlink v2.0 satellites, using the “Bus F9-2” configuration, also called “V2 mini”, with satellites of 800 kg and 4.1×2.7 metres size, able to fit in the Falcon 9 payload fairing, but with only 21 per launch. This is a scaled down version of the 2000 kg v2.0 Bus Starship version designed to be launched by Starship, but is said to provide three to four times the bandwidth per satellite of the operational v1.0 and v1.5 satellites. Weather is forecast as 95% favourable for launch.

Here is the pre-flight preview from Everyday Astronaut .


Sam Lawler, professor of astronomy, posted:

The Starlink Gen2 sats are apparently each 7m x 3m and 1250 kg, the size and almost the same weight as a Ford F-150, in case you were wondering. They plan to have 42,000 of them in orbit.

3,633 Starlinks in orbit out of 3,930 launched (failure rate still ~10%, gross). 7,312 total sats in orbit.

Each satellite has a planned lifetime of 5 years. That means they’ll be de-orbiting and replacing ALL of them every 5 years.

That comes to 23 sats per day, which is 29 TONS OF SATELLITE every day.

It doesn’t go away, it gets added to the upper atmosphere. Most of the mass is aluminum.

And yes, there are about 50-60 tons of meteorite material that gets added to the Earth’s atmosphere every day (shooting stars), but that’s mostly silicates. This is going to be WAY more than the natural amount of metal added to the upper atmosphere.


So how does that compare with the mass of the atmosphere? Well, if we define the atmosphere as up to the Kármán line at 100 km, around where satellites begin to burn up, the mass is around 5\times 10^{18} kg. So, if you’re adding 29 tonnes (2.9\times 10^4) kg/day, that’s an addition to the atmospheric mass of a factor of 5.8\times 10^{-15}, or 0.00000000000058% per day. How long would it take to increase the mass of the Earth’s atmosphere by 1%? That would be 1.7\times 10^{12} days, or 4.7 billion years, around the present age of the Earth.

But wait…the Earth’s atmosphere is not a sealed system. Around 90 tonnes a day of atmosphere escapes to space every day and is blown away outward into the solar system with the solar wind, and this loss is from the upper atmosphere, where satellites burn up, so some fraction of the satellite and cosmic dust is lost to deep space.


The launch has been postponed to no earlier than Sunday, 2023-02-26. Further, since the Crew-6 launch to the International Space Station is scheduled for the next day, 2023-02-27, if it remains on track to launch on time, the Starlink launch will be further postponed until after the crew launch.

I will update the main post when a definitive launch date and time are set.


SpaceX has announced a new time for the Starlink Group 6-1 launch. Actually, they have made three different announcements of the launch on their own Web site, YouTube, and Twitter, all contradicting one another as to details of the flight (YouTube says it’s from Vandenberg with 51 satellites, while the other two say Florida with 22). I have tried to piece together the most likely information from the various sources; if I discover this is wrong, I will update the main post.

SpaceX have confirmed that this launch will be the “V2 Mini” configuration—here are some details they posted on Twitter.


They’ve changed the launch time once again, now to 2023-02-27 at 23:13 UTC, and this time the live stream player agrees with the announced time instead of showing a date four days ago. I have updated the main post accordingly. We’ll see….


On 2023-03-22 Elon Musk tweeted that some of the Starlink V2 mini satellites launched in this flight were experiencing problems and would be deorbited.


It now (2023-04-09) appears that only three of the 21 satellites launched are performing the usual orbit-raising maneuvers.


One satellite has already re-entered, one appeared to start a slow orbit raise but then stopped, and all of the rest seem to be in slow orbital decay as if they had not raised their orbits since orbital insertion. SpaceX launches Starlink satellites into an initial low altitude parking orbit, then uses their on-board argon thrusters to deliver the satellites to their desired inclination and phase, then raise the orbit to the operational altitude. That way, if a satellite completely fails after reaching orbit and cannot be controlled, natural orbital decay will deorbit it relatively quickly, avoiding its becoming long-lived space junk.