SpaceX launches a further 54 Starlink satellites

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Following five days of weather delays, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. This mission sent an additional 54 satellites into orbit to expand its global broadband.

Starlink currently has over 3,000 satellites in orbit. SpaceX has been working rapidly to expand their constellation of satellites with launches occurring very often, almost every week. SpaceX has already exceeded their 2021 record of 31 launches, the most lift-offs in a year.

As of July, Starlink broadband is available in 36 countries including significant coverage in the US, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Yesterday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that coverage is now available on all seven continents, even Antarctica.

This has been a significant year in Starlink usage expansion. Starlink has accessed a new group of customers with technology expansion onto cruise ships, RVs, and even mobile phone service.

Starlink will be used on all Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises ships as a result of their partnership. It will take until 2023 for it to be installed on all the vessels.

Also, T-Mobile has partnered with SpaceX to bring more mobile phone connectivity to dead zones by enabling cell phones to connect to SpaceX's Starlink satellites. The overall aim is to provide a global mobile phone service after 2023.

On 26 February 2022, Elon Musk announced that the Starlink satellites had become active over Ukraine after a request from the Ukrainian government to replace internet services destroyed during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

By 6 April 2022, SpaceX had sent over 5,000 Starlink terminals to Ukraine to allow Ukrainians access to the Starlink network. The Starlink equipment sent to Ukraine was funded by SpaceX including partial funding by the US Agency for International Development, as well as the governments of France and Poland.

Some astronomers have raised concerns about the constellations' effect on ground-based astronomy and how the satellites will add to an already congested orbital environment.

SpaceX has attempted to mitigate astronomy concerns by implementing several upgrades to Starlink satellites aimed at reducing their brightness during operation.