After several postponed launches last week due to poor weather conditions, SpaceX finally got to launch its Starlink 4-34 mission, successfully deploying another 54 of its internet satellites in low-Earth orbit. The mission was the first since the company revealed last week that its Starlink internet service is now serving customers on all seven continents.
SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8:18 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 18. You can see the rocket climbing into the night sky in the video below.
As usual, a short while after launch, the Falcon 9’s first-stage booster made a perfect landing on a drone ship waiting in the Atlantic Ocean.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship pic.twitter.com/qXvgp8kMeH
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 19, 2022
The successful landing means the booster can be used for another launch, adding to its growing list of flights that already includes the CRS-22, Crew-3, Turksat 5B, Crew-4, and CRS-25 missions.
SpaceX now has more than 3,000 Starlink satellites in orbit, providing broadband connectivity to more than half a million customers in some 40 countries.
Last week the U.S. National Science Foundation announced it was testing Starlink’s “polar service” at McMurdo Station around 2,200 miles south of New Zealand, enabling those working at the remote outpost to access improved bandwidth and connectivity for science support work.
The announcement confirmed for the first time that Starlink now reaches Antarctica, an achievement that means it now has customers across all seven continents.
SpaceX later shared the news on Twitter, saying in a post: “Starlink is now on all seven continents! In such a remote location like Antarctica, this capability is enabled by Starlink’s space laser network.”
Starlink is now on all seven continents! In such a remote location like Antarctica, this capability is enabled by Starlink's space laser network https://t.co/c9HX0xrX0u
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 14, 2022
SpaceX has recently been expanding its internet service beyond residential homes in a bid to reach even more people, launching Starlink Maritime for people on ships and boats, and sealing a deal with Hawaiian Air as it begins exploring ways to take the service to the airline industry.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said previously he believes Starlink could one day generate up to $50 billion in annual revenue if the service succeeds in securing even just a few percent of the global telecommunications market. It still has a long way to go, but the company appears to be heading in the right direction as its seeks to reach that goal.