SpaceX launches 54 Starlink satellites, lands rocket at sea

On Saturday night, SpaceX sent 54 more of its Starlink broadband satellites into space and landed a rocket on a ship at sea (Aug. 27).

At 11:41 p.m. EDT on Saturday, a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket with 54 Starlink spacecraft on board took off from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida (0341 GMT on Aug. 28). SpaceX had to wait for bad weather to pass, so it took about 80 minutes longer than planned.

SpaceX launches 54 Starlink satellites, lands rocket at sea

SpaceX launches 54 Starlink satellites, lands rocket at sea

The first stage of the Falcon 9 came back to Earth less than nine minutes after launch. It landed on the SpaceX droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas, which was in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.

It was the second time this Falcon 9 first stage had taken off and landed. A SpaceX mission description says that the booster also helped send a robotic Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station in December of 2016. (opens in new tab).

Meanwhile, the Falcon 9’s upper stage kept pulling the Starlink satellites into the sky. About 15 minutes after liftoff, as planned, all 54 satellites were released into low Earth orbit, which SpaceX confirmed on Twitter (opens in new tab).

SpaceX’s 38th launch of 2022 took place on Saturday night. This added to the company’s record for the most orbital missions in a calendar year. It was SpaceX’s internet megaconstellation Starlink’s 24th mission of the year.

SpaceX has big plans for Starlink, as shown by how often they launch. For example, on Thursday (August 25), Elon Musk announced a deal with T-Mobile to use Starlink to connect smartphones directly.

That service should start next year. It will use Starlink Version 2 satellites, which will be much bigger and better than the Starlink satellites SpaceX has launched so far.