SpaceX has deployed 60 more of its Starlink internet broadband satellites just five days after the previous set. Since the beginning of March, the SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk have shipped 420 Starlink satellites.
The company released its iteration of the "fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy" by launching the satellites through the Falcon 9 on Star Wars Day (also known as "May the Fourth") to join the global celebration of all things "Star Wars."
This launch took place at 3:01 p.m. ET from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and used a re-used Falcon 9 booster that had previously flown eight times. The booster also landed on SpaceX's floating drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, tying the company's reusable flight program's record for flying resumed boosters, which it set in March. This is the 115th Falcon 9 launch for the brand.
The rocket's first stage returned to Earth nine minutes after liftoff, docking on SpaceX's drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" for its ninth safe landing.
Space.com said the launch was initially scheduled as part of a SpaceX doubleheader as the corporation prepared to launch its giant Starship from its South Texas facilities. Although Falcon 9 was able to get off the ground, the flight was put back to no earlier than Thursday (May 6).
As the rocket blasted off during a special daytime flight, onlookers were treated to quite a display.
SpaceX, headquartered in Hawthorne, California, maintains its fast launch frequency from last year, with its 13th launch so far in 2021. Every single one of those missions was carried out on repurposed rockets, with the majority of them carrying SpaceX's own Starlink satellites. That's how the corporation has been trying to fill the 1,440-broadband-satellite internet constellation.
The target has already been met, but SpaceX isn't slowing down; the firm has been approved to launch up to 30,000 Starlink satellites, with the possibility of even more.
Elon Musk Guarantees SpaceX Starlink Services to 500k Applicants
Elon Musk said there's no need to worry about SpaceX's Starlink internet satellite service because all 500,000 applicants would receive the original service for which they requested.
SpaceX announced that the number of interested users has now surpassed half a million, and that they have charged a refundable $99 deposit-but the true obstacle would be in densely populated areas.
"To date, over half a million people have placed an order or put down a deposit for Starlink," SpaceX operations engineer Siva Bharadvaj said during the launch webcast of its 26th Starlink mission.
Although SpaceX's announcement of over half a million orders shows that interest for its service is increasing, it's uncertain how many will become monthly subscribers or live in places where Starlink will operate.
Musk vowed there would be no one left behind in the first half-million. He added Starlink's employees would process them to offer internet access with only their $99 refundable deposit.
Only limitation is high density of users in urban areas. Most likely, all of the initial 500k will receive service. More of a challenge when we get into the several million user range.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 4, 2021
This was addressed in response to an article claiming that the $99 deposit would not guarantee coverage for the internet satellite connection and that it could be refunded at any time by SpaceX Starlink. Musk defended this, claiming that everyone will get service and that it will not be too difficult for the time being.
Elon Musk, on the other hand, believes that the true challenge will arrive eventually. This "soon" is because Starlink's order volume has already surpassed the "million range" and the firm is handling large amounts of orders.
Another issue raised by the CEO is that Starlink's internet infrastructure sees a high density of consumers in metropolitan areas, which could cause satellites and smartphones to compete for connectivity and data. If there are a large number of users in a given location, various variables such as latency, download, and upload rates, as well as the internet's ping, can result in differing results.
Because of the high demand, there continues to be a large bottleneck in the fulfillment of Starlink orders. Customers interested in using the service will register on SpaceX's Starlink website and preorder the Starlink receiver, router, power supplies, and mounting hardware for their house.
Starlink is currently open to trial users in six countries: Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Mexico, the United States, and Canada. However, the target is to begin expanding distribution and gain near-global penetration by the end of 2021, with a series of additional launches expected during the year.
RELATED ARTICLE: How to Set Up Starlink Internet Service at Home