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WATCH: SpaceX launches 52 Starlink satellites into space on Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX launched 52 Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit over the weekend, marking the fourth launch and landing for this Falcon 9 first-stage booster.

At the time of publishing, there are close to 3 000 functioning Starlink satellites in orbit, with Starlink services available in 40 countries worldwide, on all continents.

Watch: Starlink launch, 25 September

According to a spaceflight tracker designed by Jonathan McDowell, 2 500 satellites are operational, while another 500 are moving into orbit.

The launch – scheduled for 7.32 ET on 24 September (or 1.32 am on 25 September, SA Standard Time – lifted off from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral.

The entire launch mission took approximately nine minutes with the Falcon 9’s first-stage booster touching down on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship in the Atlantic ocean.

This weekend’s launch was SpaceX’s 43rd orbital mission of 2022, breaking the previous record – 31 launches achieved in 2021.

Fifteen minutes after liftoff, the rocket’s upper stage deployed the 52 satellites into low-Earth orbit:

What is Starlink

Starlink is Elon Musk’s solution to global internet coverage. The constellation of Starlink satellites currently provides Internet access to 40 countries.

ALSO READ: Errol Musk is ‘not proud’ of his billionaire son

SpaceX began deploying the satellites in 2019, with registration opening to South African residents in February 2021.

At the time, the space agency said it would “responsibly scale Starlink’s total network capacity and data density” to meet users’ anticipated needs.

Pre-registration in South Africa

Starlink is not available in South Africa. Nigeria and Mozambique became the first African countries to allow Starlink to operate in May 2022.

It was pre-ordered in 2019 and was informed during the sign-up process that SpaceX will be targeting coverage in Johannesburg in 2022, but availability is limited.

SpaceX warned that paying the registration fee does not necessarily guarantee service. I forked out $99 (R1 430 in April 2021) for the pre-order fee.

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