The launch comes as SpaceX attempts to increase the number of Starlink satellites in order to help improve internet quality and congestion issues for users on the ground.
SpaceX recently completed its 32nd orbital launch of the year, breaking the company’s own annual record in roughly half the time.
Last year’s record of 31 launches was broken. However, the company surpassed the count on Friday by launching another Falcon 9 rocket carrying a batch of Starlink satellites into orbit.
The record was most notably broken in the middle of July. SpaceX now has another five months to increase the number even further before the end of the year.
The increased number of launches is good news for Starlink users, who use SpaceX’s satellite internet service. The system works by relaying high-speed broadband to users on the ground via satellites in Earth’s orbit.
Starlink already has nearly 500,000 users worldwide. However, the system’s internet quality has become increasingly dependent on the number of satellites in orbit. This is causing some Starlink subscribers to experience network congestion, most likely as a result of too many users on the network.
In response, SpaceX has assured customers that internet speeds over Starlink will improve as more satellites are launched into orbit. SpaceX currently has over 2,500 active Starlink satellites in orbit. According to company CEO Elon Musk, the goal for the next year is to increase the number to over 4,200. To accomplish this, SpaceX intends to use its upcoming and larger Starship craft to assist in the deployment of even more Starlink satellites.
The 46 Starlink satellites launched on Friday are intended to orbit over the Earth’s polar regions, allowing SpaceX to expand Starlink access to areas such as Alaska and northern Canada. Later this year, the company plans two more Starlink launches for the polar regions.