SpaceX has confirmed that on November 24 at 9:13 PM EST, it launched its 16th Starlink mission. The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Falcon 9 first stage rocket that pushed the satellites into orbit flew for its seventh time, hitting a milestone.
The same first-stage rocket was used in the Telstar 18 ADVANTAGE mission in September 2018, the Iridium-8 mission in January 2019, and a quartet of Starlink missions. Its first Starlink launch was in May 2019, and it flew again in January 2020, June 2020, and August 2020. SpaceX notes that it successfully landed the Falcon 9 first stage on its drone ship called “Of Course I Still Love You.”
The landing occurred in the Atlantic Ocean. The company also mentions that half of the Falcon 9 faring supported a mission previously, while the other half had been used on two additional missions. SpaceX is well on its way to getting its complete constellation of Starlink satellites into orbit.
As the constellation grows, users of the Starlink Internet service will get more stable connections, and the system will support additional users in other countries. Currently, a test program is operating in some parts of the United States that SpaceX calls the “Better Than Nothing Beta.”
Users who had requested availability updates via Starlink.com and live in serviceable areas received invites to participate. Participants did have to spend some money for the beta. The hardware reportedly costs around $500, while the service itself is about $100 per month. Testers have confirmed speeds of approximately 30 to 100 Mbps and ping times good enough for online gaming. Starlink Internet service will be a game change for underserved and unserved areas around the United States. It will allow anyone anywhere to access the Internet once the satellites are all deployed.