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SpaceX on track to double annual launch record in 2022

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

SpaceX is preparing to send another batch of satellites into space on Tuesday, marking its 53rd rocket launch of 2022.

It is one of 10 planned missions before the end of the year, and if successful with all of them Elon Musk’s company will double its previous annual launch record of 31 set in 2021.

The rate of more than one launch per week is a result of a vigorous schedule for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network, which aims to beam high-speed internet back to Earth from a thousands-strong constellation of antennas in low-Earth orbit.

Tuesday’s mission will see rival space internet firm OneWeb use SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket to deliver its own satellites into orbit after it was forced to cut ties with its former Russian launch provider following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

Lift-off is scheduled to take place at 5.37pm local time (10.37pm GMT) on 6 December from Launch Complex 39A in Florida.

SpaceX plans to launch thousands more Starlink satellites over the coming years, having secured regulatory approval from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week to build, deploy and operate up to 7,500 Gen-2 units.

There are currently more than 3,500 Starlink satellites in orbit serving tens of thousands of users around the world, however the private space firm had hoped to secure FCC approval for nearly 30,000 more.

The FCC said its limited approval was designed to “protect other satellite and terrestrial operators from harmful interference and maintain a safe space environment”.

Starlink is available in light blue areas as of 6 December, 2022 (SpaceX)
Starlink is available in light blue areas as of 6 December, 2022 (SpaceX)

Starlink is currently available for users in most of Europe, North America, Australasia, and parts of South America, while roll out is expected to come to large parts of Asia and Africa in the coming months.

Customers can access high-speed internet for a monthly fee of $110 and a one-time fee of $599 for the equipment needed to receive the signal.