At SpaceX and T-Mobile’s joint event, Elon Musk provided a bit more insight into the upgrades coming to Starlink with the Gen 2 satellites. While the main new information revealed how the companies are working to bring direct satellite connection to cell phones, he also commented on recent information about a smaller Gen 2 Starlink.
It makes sense to launch these more capable satellites on the proven workhorse to expand the constellation if it is possible. But when asked directly about the plans for Gen 2 on Falcon 9, Musk said that Gen 2 is meant for Starship, and will be launching on Starship – not Falcon 9.
Gen 2 satellites, from the beginning, have been larger and meant exclusively for Starship, but recent reports seemed to indicate that they would no longer be exclusive.
Clearly, however, these reports were based on a truth, as Musk admitted that, should Starship delays worsen, the company may launch an ‘interim’ satellite on their workhorse rocket.
The larger Gen 2 Starlink satellites will be much more powerful and more financially viable than the Gen 1 satellites, so having to go with an interim satellite wouldn’t be good for the service.
Needing to shrink down into the Falcon 9 fairing, it is likely the cellular antenna, which Musk said will unfold to roughly 25 square meters, would be one of the elements unique to the Gen 2. It is likely that these ‘interim’ satellites would be basically the same thing as the ‘shrunk down Gen 2’ satellites that have been previously reported, but Musk doesn’t want a watered-down version of the satellite referred to by the same name.