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SpaceX deploys 13 new Direct to Cell satellites from California



SpaceX Direct to Cell Satellite

On May 9, 2024, SpaceX launched a new Falcon 9 space vehicle including 13 new Direct to Cell (DtC) satellites into the payload. This will improve the test and development of direct-to-cell satellite communication.

The mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. It was the 75th Falcon 9 lift-off from Pad 4E. In addition to 13 Direct to Sell satellites, the company sent 7 new Starlink communication satellites with the payload.


Direct to Cell Starlink constellation is designed to provide mobile services including text, voice, and data for LTE phones. According to the roadmap, direct-to-cell services will launch text services by this year and voice & data and IoT will start in 2025.

In January, SpaceX launched the first phase of 6 DtC satellites into orbit. Early tests confirmed a successful deployment and within a week, the company also demonstrated text message capability alongside T-mobile. DtC service enables seamless connectivity to smartphones without any hardware modification. SpaceX has partnered with big telecom operators from different regions to launch this technology.

SpaceX has positioned to scale out its first Direct to Cell constellation in a few months with vertical integration controlling both launch and satellite production in addition to operation. Dtc also plugs into the existing Starlink satellite constellation via laser backhaul. It means that the early satellites could provide services anywhere with regulatory approvals without requiring dedicated ground infrastructure.

So far, SpaceX has conducted three DtC deployment missions including the latest with 25 overall count.


First stage:

This launch and landing marks the fourth flight for the first stage booster and previously supported USSF-62 and now three Starlink missions. After separation, the booster landed on a droneship.

Mel Trivalo is a senior author at, he began his early career in electronics in 2021 and turned his attention towards Space and Rocket Science. Mel likes to explore new technologies and swings baseball to run through creative thoughts.

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