For the first time, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, in partnership with T-Mobile, launched six satellites into orbit that can deliver mobile phone services to some of the world’s most remote areas.
The Starlink satellites function like a cell tower in space. They work with existing phones and do not require specialized equipment. They enable users to send and receive text messages in regions with typically poor or nonexistent cellular signals. Kate Tice, senior quality systems engineering manager at SpaceX, says voice and data will arrive later, as reported by Bloomberg.
SpaceX posted about the Falcon 9 launch on X, which included 21 Starlink satellites in its payload.
The service, called “Direct to Cell,” is a partnership between SpaceX and T-Mobile announced in 2022. In December 2023, the service was approved to begin performing tests.
SpaceX plans to work with carriers in other countries, like KDDI Corp. in Japan, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd.’s Optus in Australia, Salt Mobile SA in Switzerland, One New Zealand Group Ltd. in New Zealand, Rogers Communications Inc. in Canada, and Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones SA in Chile and Peru, per Bloomberg.
Starlink is expected to generate roughly $10 billion in overall sales in 2024. If accurate, this figure would account for two-thirds of SpaceX’s total sales, far outweighing its rocket launch revenue.
According to Bloomberg, Elon Musk is considering taking Starlink public as early as late 2024.