SpaceX launches 60 satellites, nears global net coverage

Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX continued rollout of its Starlink broadband project with another launch of 60 satellites, moving closer to securing global internet coverage, CNN reported. A Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The rocket’s upper stage deployed its payload of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit.

The rocket’s first stage landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic eight and a half minutes after liftoff. This was the seventh flight for this booster, which first launched the Demo-2 commercial crew mission last May and most recently launched another set of Starlink satellites on 11 March. The company now has 1,378 satellites in orbit when accounting for those launched and subsequently deorbited. That suggests the company will reach the continuous coverage milestone after four to five more launches.

Those launches would push SpaceX against its current US FCC authorization, which allows the company to operate up to 1,584 satellites in orbits at approximately 550 kilometers. The company’s current license from the Federal Communications Commission allows it to operate 2,825 additional satellites at altitudes of 1,100 to 1,300 kilometers. SpaceX had filed a request with the FCC to modify that license, moving those additional satellites to 550 kilometers.

Starlink now remains in a beta test in the United States and several other countries.

Customers currently pay about $500 for that equipment, meaning that SpaceX is still significantly subsidizing those terminals. That may change, though, as the company makes continued progress to lower costs.

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