SpaceX launches 23 Starlink satellites as the company reaches 3 million customers globally

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket takes flight supporting the Starlink 6-62 mission on Wednesday, May 23, 2024. Image: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now

SpaceX continued the expansion of its Starlink internet satellite mega-constellation with the first of two planned Falcon 9 launches from Florida this week as the company boasts hitting more than three million users.

First up to bat was the Starlink 6-62 launch from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 10:35 p.m. EDT (0235 UTC). It added 23 additional satellites to the thousands currently in low Earth orbit.

The Wednesday night launch comes later in the day after the company successfully launched a classified number of satellites supporting the National Reconnaissance Office’s so-called “proliferated architecture” constellation.  It was the first of what the NRO described as approximately half a dozen such launches anticipated in 2024.

“Over the next decade, we will continue to increase the number of satellites operating across multiple orbits — complementing the NRO’s cutting-edge, highly-capable satellites that are the traditional hallmark of the NRO — by adding responsive, proliferated systems,” said Dr. Troy Meink, principal deputy director of the NRO, in a statement. “Our proliferated systems will increase timeliness of access, diversify communications pathways, and enhance our resilience.”

The Falcon 9 first stage booster, tail number B1080 in the SpaceX fleet, launched Wednesday’s Starlink 6-62 mission. It previously supported the launch of three Dragon missions to the International Space Station along with the European Space Agency’s Euclid observatory.

About eight minutes after liftoff, B1080 touched down on the droneship, ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas.’ This marked the 91st booster landing for ASOG and the 311th booster landing for SpaceX to date.

In addition to announcing that it reached three million Starlink customers, earlier this week SpaceX also noted that the service is now available across the islands that make up the Republic of Fiji. SpaceX stated that it marked “the 99th country, territory or market around the world where Starlink’s high-speed internet service is available.”

In a separate post, SpaceX shared a video on X (formerly Twitter) demonstrating what it described as the “first video call on X completed through Starlink Direct to Cell satellites from unmodified mobile phones!” It added that the service will begin to be rolled out to T-Mobile customers “later this year.”