SpaceX’s Starlink internet constellation is undergoing a serious remote service test.
SpaceX has long touted Starlink’s potential as a global connector, enabling people in rural areas and other underserved communities to access high-speed Internet. And Stellar Link broadband is now beaming to one of the most remote communities on earth – McMurdo Station, a research outpost operated by the United States Antarctic Program (USAP).
“NSF-supported USAP scientists in #Antarctica are over the moon! Starlink is testing polar service with a newly deployed user terminal at McMurdo Station, increasing bandwidth and connectivity for science support,” said the US National Science Foundation. said via Twitter on Wednesday (opens in a new tab) (September 14).
Related: SpaceX’s Starlink megaconstellation launches in photos
USAP scientists supported by the NSF in #Antarctica are over the moon! Starlink is testing polar service with a newly deployed user terminal at McMurdo Station, increasing bandwidth and connectivity for science support. pic.twitter.com/c3kLGk8XBVSeptember 14, 2022
SpaceX also celebrated this milestone. “Starlink is now on all seven continents! In a place as far away as Antarctica, this ability is enabled by Starlink. space laser array,” the the company tweeted on Wednesday (opens in a new tab).
SpaceX has already launched more than 3,200 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit. And the constellation will grow to even bigger proportions, if all goes as planned: SpaceX has permission to launch 12,000 Starlink spacecraft, and the company has sought permission from an international regulator to orbit 30,000 more satellites in more of that.
Starting next year, SpaceX plans to start launching the Starlink Version 2 satellites, which are much larger and more capable than the current iteration. These next-generation spacecraft will be able to deliver service directly to smartphones, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said.
Indeed, late last month, Musk announced that SpaceX and T-Mobile had signed an agreement to provide such a service, through a project called “Cover above and beyond.”
Starlink is crucial to SpaceX’s long-term exploration goals. Musk said revenue from the broadband constellation helps fund Spatialship, the giant rocket-spacecraft combo that SpaceX is developing to take people and cargo to the moon and Mars. SpaceX also plans to launch Starlink Version 2 satellites into orbit using Starship.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) Or on Facebook (opens in a new tab).