SpaceX launches 60 more Starlink satellites to orbit, expands international coverage

SpaceX launched sixty more Starlink satellites aboard the Falcon 9 launch vehicle on March 11. The launch increased the company’s constellation to one thousand and two hundred satellites, meant to expand its internet coverage across the US, Canada, parts of the UK, Germany, and New Zealand.

The Falcon 9, the two-stage orbital launch vehicle developed by SpaceX in the United States, took off at around 3:13 EAT from the firm’s Space Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, carrying the Starlink satellites. The upper stage launched the sixty satellites to orbit approximately sixty-five minutes after leaving the takeoff.

After deploying the satellites, the rocket’s reusable upper stage descended towards the earth’s surface, landing on the company’s drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, about six hundred kilometers downrange. The landing happened eight and a half minutes after liftoff, making this Falcon 9’s sixth flight.

Falcon 9 has deployed payloads to space on several missions, including the Demo-2 commercial crew test flight in May 2020 and the Transporter-1 rideshare mission, launched at the beginning of 2021. In 2021, SpaceX has planned a series of Starlink launches, all of which will be carried by the Falcon 9.

The space company, founded by billionaire Elon Musk, has also launched two more missions besides the Starlink project this year. The Transporter 1 mission, which carries small satellites from different companies through the SmallSat Rideshare Program, was launched aboard Falcon 9.

Besides, the Falcon 9lalso lifted the Turksat 5A geostationary communications satellite to orbit. The communications mission operated by Turkish satellite company, Turksat, took off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on January 7, this year. The satellites will cover Turkey, Middle East, Europe, and Africa.

SpaceX is expanding Starlink’s coverage, and its beta test for broadband internet service provided by the satellites in progress. The beta test was initially restricted to the northern region of the United States. The company has since expanded the test to southern Canada and select areas in the United Kingdom.

The additional Starlink satellites will enable SpaceX to provide a satellite internet connection to the UK, including Scotland, Wales, and England. The western parts of Germany will also enjoy the services and the South Island area of New Zealand. SpaceX revealed that the services should be up in the next few weeks.

The beta tests have indicated that the internet speeds range between 50 and 150 megabits per second, sometimes going above 300 megabits per second. The only downside is the occasional downtime. SpaceX says despite the occasional outages, the service is ‘better than nothing.’