SpaceX now has 60 more Starlink satellites in orbit – it launched its full full complement of Internet broadband spacecraft this morning from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Last Thursday, SpaceX launched its final 60 batches, and this past week also confirmed that it is expanding its beta of StarLink Internet service to additional markets around the world, including Germany and New Zealand.
This is the 21st Starlink launch of this year, and the sixth this year, with three more launches, planned later this month, to allow for weather and schedules. The simple reason for such an aggressive launch speed is that it adds fewer satellites to its constellation in low-Earth orbit, the more customers it can sign up and service. Starlink is currently in beta, but now it is open to anyone to sign up based on geography, with SpaceX taking a deposit and offering a rough timeline on projected availability.
So far, the StarLink service is open to people in the US, Canada, UK, Germany and New Zealand, but plans to get “near global coverage of a populated world” by the end of this year. Adding satellites to the planetarium not only helps expand geographic reach, but also improves network performance. SpaceX says that at present, the beta should deliver speeds ranging from 50Mb / s to 150Mb / s, with latencies falling between 20ms to 40ms, but both of those matrices should improve in the coming months as more. The spacecraft join the network, and roll out additional ground stations as SpaceX.
Already, there are significant reports that Starlink’s service boosts competition in rural and difficult areas, where infrastructure for alternative services such as cellular internet, or legacy satellites from geosynchronous spacecraft-based networks, has been disappointing.
The launch also included a successful controlled landing of boosters used to propel the Falcon 9 rocket that brought Starlink satellites into orbit. SpaceX landed in the first phase, which flew on the first five missions, including SpaceX’s first manned spaceflight mission, back to its autonomous drone landing ship in the Atlantic Ocean.