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SpaceX Kicks off 2024 with Launch of 21 Starlink and 6 Direct-to-Cell Satellites

Yusuf Balogun
Yusuf Balogun
Yusuf is a law graduate and freelance journalist with a keen interest in tech reporting.

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In a triumphant conclusion to 2023, SpaceX achieved its 96th and final launch of the year, named 6-36 on December 28, sending 23 Starlink satellites into orbit. Amazingly, SpaceX wasted no time diving into the new year, commencing its first launch of 2024 today.

The Falcon 9 rocket, a stalwart in SpaceX’s fleet, took off from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 7:44 p.m. PST. This inaugural mission of the year carried six direct-to-cell Starlink satellites.

Direct-to-Cell Capabilities Boost Global Connectivity

A notable feature of this launch is the inclusion of six Starlink satellites equipped with Direct Cell capabilities. In a tweet, SpaceX highlighted that these satellites would enhance global connectivity and eliminate dead zones. The company envisions seamless access to texting, calling, and browsing worldwide, whether on land, lakes, or coastal waters.

“This launch will include the first six Starlink satellites with Direct Cell capabilities that will enable mobile network operators around the world to provide seamless global access to texting, calling, and browsing wherever you may be on land, lakes, or coastal waters,” the SpaceX website said.

The Falcon 9 rocket employed for this mission showcased the debut of the first-stage booster B1082. Approximately 8.5 minutes after liftoff, the booster achieved a precision landing on the droneship, ‘Of Course I Still Love You,’ marking another milestone in SpaceX’s reusable rocket program.

As of November 2023, SpaceX boasts over 5,200 operational Starlink satellites, forming a robust low-Earth orbit constellation for broadband internet. With ambitions to launch a staggering 12,000 satellites, the company envisions an even more expansive network. SpaceX’s audacious goal stands at an impressive 42,000 units, demonstrating the company’s commitment to revolutionizing global connectivity.


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