SpaceX’s Starlink internet service reaches milestone

SpaceX’s Starlink service now has more than 3 million customers globally, the company announced this week.

“Starlink is connecting more than 3M people with high-speed internet across nearly 100 countries, territories, and many other markets,” SpaceX said in a social media post on Tuesday that also included a short video showing Starlink satellite dishes set up and providing an internet connection in various places around the world.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk also posted a message thanking customers and congratulating his team on reaching 3 million subscribers in 99 countries:

SpaceX has worked rapidly to get its internet-from-space Starlink satellite service to this advanced stage of operations. The primary goal of Starlink is to bring internet connectivity to unserved or underserved locations around the world, but customers in all kinds of places now have the ability to sign up to the service.

SpaceX sent its first batch of 60 satellites to low-Earth orbit in May 2019 and today has around 6,000 of its small satellites orbiting the planet.

Those early deployments of Starlink satellites soon paved the way for the launch of a beta service in October 2020. By February of the following year, the service already had 10,000 users globally before growing rapidly to reach 1 million users in December 2022 and 2 million customers just nine months after that.

The service for residential Starlink customers starts at $120 per month for unlimited data, while the one-time dish purchase costs $599.

Starlink satellites are being used not only by residential and business customers, but also by airlines for in-flight internet and also cruise ships so that passengers can stay connected while at sea. The technology has also been used to help disaster-stricken areas to get back online while regular internet services are repaired.

But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Starlink. Astronomers have long complained about the satellites impacting their ability to explore deep space due to sunlight reflecting off the orbiting machinery, while lawmakers earlier this year demanded answers from Musk over reports that Starlink technology is being used by Russian forces in Ukraine. SpaceX has denied that any Starlink terminals have been sold to Russia, an act that would violate U.S. sanctions, though it’s thought the country may have obtained them by other means.

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