Lifting off from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Sunday evening, a Falcon 9 rocket delivered 46 Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit.
“These polar launches will enable complete coverage of Earth (where approved by local government),” SpaceX boss Elon Musk tweeted following the launch.
It was the 50th dedicated Starlink launch for SpaceX, having launched the first payload of two satellites in February 2018.
SpaceX has since launched more than 2,600 Starlink satellites into orbit, with 2,373 currently active as of 11 July, 2022.
This means the private space firm is responsible for more than 40 per cent of all active satellites in orbit around Earth.
Thousands more Starlink satellites will be launched into orbit before the network is complete, with each new batch bolstering speed and reliability of the broadband service.
“Starlink internet works by sending information through the vacuum of space, where it travels much faster than in fiber-optic cable and can reach far more people and places,” SpaceX’s website states.
“With high speeds and latency as low as 20ms in most locations, Starlink enables video calls, online gaming, streaming, and other high data rate activities that historically have not been possible with satellite internet.”
These polar launches will enable complete coverage of Earth (where approved by local government) https://t.co/0ssHobwdp3
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 11, 2022
It is primarily designed for people in rural locations that don’t have access to traditional ground-based telecommunication infrastructure, though it has also been used in areas hit by disaster or conflict.
In Ukraine, an estimated 150,000 people are staying connected through Starlink kits sent to the country following Russia’s invasion, according to one official, where SpaceX has temporarily waived the typical $99 subscription fee for the service for users.