While Elon Musk’s SpaceX is known for its reusable rockets and spacecraft, as well as its ambitious plans for Mars colonization, the company has also been working hard to expand the coverage of its satellite internet service Starlink. The service, which aims to provide high-speed satellite-based internet connectivity around the world, has already launched over 3,000 satellites, the majority of which are operational and cover a large portion of the globe. Earlier this year, the company announced that its global user base had surpassed 500,000, as predicted. After launching the service in Malta in September 2022, Starlink confirmed that it had expanded to more than 40 countries.
Despite having a large number of satellites in orbit and coverage in several countries, there is no denying that many parts of the world remain without Starlink coverage. Even in the United States, Starlink has yet to cover a significant portion of the country’s eastern region. Furthermore, the service has yet to be made available in the majority of Africa, South America, and Asia. Telecom regulators are opposing the company in large markets such as India, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Regardless, Starlink appears to be on track to achieve global coverage in the coming years, with an eventual goal of sending up to 42,000 satellites or more for this purpose alone. While seamless global coverage for Starlink is still a few years away, Elon Musk recently made a significant announcement about the service’s expanding coverage.
Starlink is now active on all continents
Elon Musk confirmed in a tweet that Starlink coverage has now reached all seven continents, including Antarctica. Musk’s announcement comes nearly a week after the National Science Foundation confirmed that scientists with the United States Antarctic Program successfully deployed a Starlink dish at McMurdo Station, a U.S. research facility off the coast of Antarctica. According to the USAP website, the arrival of Starlink in Antarctica is expected to vastly improve the internet experience at the station, which previously had to share a 17 Mbps connection among the entire research community of more than 1000 people.
This isn’t the first time SpaceX has brought reliable internet access to a remote part of the planet. When the company launched 46 satellites into space earlier this year, they orbited the planet’s northernmost reaches, allowing coverage to extend to Alaska, Northern Canada, and Greenland.
Aside from working on expanding Starlink’s reach and coverage, SpaceX has also been in the news for working on a project to bring connectivity to areas without cellular coverage. The company is collaborating with T-Mobile to allow its subscribers to send and receive text messages from anywhere in the continental United States, as well as some parts of Alaska and Hawaii, even when they are not in cellular coverage. Texting via satellite is expected to be available by 2023, following the launch of SpaceX’s Starlink Version 2 satellites, which will beam the service directly to smartphones.