The U.S. Antarctic Program's (USAP) McMurdo Station, one of the world's most isolated communities, is now receiving Starlink internet.
More than 3,200 Starlink satellites have now been placed in low Earth orbit by SpaceX. If all goes according to plan, the constellation will increase in size even more because SpaceX has been given authorization to launch 12,000 Starlink spacecraft and has requested approval from a global regulatory body to launch an additional 30,000 satellites into orbit.
Starlink has long been hailed by SpaceX as having the ability to connect the world by supplying high-speed internet to disadvantaged towns and rural areas.
"NSF-supported USAP scientists in #Antarctica are over the moon! Starlink is testing polar service with a newly deployed user terminal at McMurdo Station, increasing bandwidth and connectivity for science support," the U.S. National Science Foundation tweeted on Wednesday.
Starlink, meanwhile, announced the news with a celebratory tweet:
"Starlink is now on all seven continents! In such a remote location like Antarctica, this capability is enabled by Starlink's space laser network."
SpaceX intends to begin launching Starlink Version 2 satellites next year, which will be significantly larger and more capable than the present model. According to SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, this next-generation spacecraft will be able to beam service directly to cellphones.
Indeed, Musk said late last month that SpaceX and T-Mobile had reached a deal to deliver such service through a project named Coverage Above and Beyond.
By utilizing Starlink, the broadband megaconstellation that SpaceX is constructing in low Earth orbit, Coverage Above and Beyond hopes to find a solution to that issue. A total of more than 3,000 Starlink satellites have been launched by the corporation to date, but none of them are capable of performing the newly announced task; Coverage Above and Beyond will require Starlink Version 2, which is anticipated to launch next year.
However, because delivering Coverage Above and Beyond is such a difficult operation, Musk claimed SpaceX will need to boost Version 2 vessels even more and equip each one with a unique antenna of roughly 16.5 feet (5 m) on a side.
"They're the most advanced phased-array antennas in the world, we think," Musk said.
SpaceX's long-term exploration aspirations rely heavily on Starlink. Musk has stated that revenue from the internet constellation is helping to fund Starship, SpaceX's massive rocket-spaceship combo that will transport people and goods to the moon and Mars. SpaceX also intends to use Starship to launch Starlink Version 2 satellites into orbit.