SpaceX launched 53 more Starlink satellites, landing the rocket back into the ocean
SpaceX launched another large batch of its Starlink Internet satellites into orbit today (Aug. 19) and also made a rocket landing at sea.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the 53 Starlink spacecraft lifted off today from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at, appropriately, 3:21 p.m. EDT (1921 GMT).
About nine minutes into the mission, the Falcon 9’s first stage returned to Earth for a vertical touchdown on the SpaceX droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.
This was the ninth launch and landing for this particular Falcon 9 first stage, according to the SpaceX mission description (opens in new tab).
The rocket’s upper stage, meanwhile, continued to move upward, eventually deploying the 53 satellites into low Earth orbit as planned 15 minutes after launch, SpaceX confirmed via Twitter (opens in new tab).
SpaceX has already launched more than 3,000 spacecraft for its Starlink constellation, which provides broadband services to customers around the world.
Many of those satellites have gone up this year. SpaceX now has 37 orbital launches in 2022, 23 of which are dedicated Starlink missions. It is a record launch cadence; The company’s previous mark for most orbital missions in a year was 31, set in 2021.
Today’s Starlink launch comes just hours after one of SpaceX’s robotic Dragon cargo capsules lifted off from the International Space Station. The dragon is expected to return to Earth tomorrow afternoon (August 20) with an ocean splashdown.