Elon Musk’s flagship company SpaceX launched an additional 53 Starlink satellites from Pad 40 of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station today at 7.19 am EST. The 230-foot Falcon 9 rocket successfully vaulted off the pad and delivered the satellites to the low-Earth orbit in about 15 minutes.
Weather stood favourable for the launch. According to the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron, mostly clear sky and mild temperatures were reported.
The launch marked the 32nd for SpaceX’s Starlink internet constellation. SpaceX already has nearly 1700 operational satellites in orbit.
SpaceX is currently providing temporary internet services through the Starlink satellites to consumers who have signed up for its beta testing program. SpaceX recently said that more than 100,000 customers have signed up to avail its user terminals and internet connection packages. The hardware for the connection costs $499 and $99 per month later.
SpaceX faces objections from competitors such as Amazon and ViaSat for its application to launch 30,000 more second-generation Starlink spacecraft in the upcoming years. These second-generation satellites would be heavier than the current satellites. These launches are planned with its new interplanetary Starship rocket.
In its filing to Federal Communications Commission, SpaceX has said that the Starship rocket would allow more frequent launches and allow better placement of satellites to meet the changing demands of the consumers. There are unconfirmed reports that there exist production problems with Starship’s Raptor engine, and the persistence of the issue could lead to the company’s bankruptcy.
SpaceX has regulatory approval from the Federal Communications Commission for launching nearly 12,000 Starlink satellites. The company plans to launch 4,400 satellites initially on a series of Falcon 9 rocket flights. SpaceX’s second-generation launcher, Starship, may be tasked with launching hundreds of Starlink satellites on a single mission.
Pre-orders for Starlink internet service stopped in India
Meanwhile, the company has stopped pre-orders in India for its satellite-based internet service. Starlink is yet to receive its license to offer services in India. Hence, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) warned citizens to not register for its internet services.
“It is hereby informed to the public at large that the said company has not obtained any license/authorisation for rendering satellite-based internet services that are being booked on their website. Given the fact that Starlink is not a licensee, the public is advised not to subscribe to Starlink services being advertised,” a notice from the DoT said.