SpaceX launched 52 more of its Starlink internet satellites into orbit Wednesday night (Oct. 5), just hours after launching astronauts toward the International Space Station for NASA.
the star link the satellites took off on a falcon 9 rocket from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. EDT (2310 GMT; 4:10 p.m. local California time).
The first stage of the Falcon 9 returned to Earth and made a precise landing 8.5 minutes after launch on SpaceX’s Of Course I Still Love You drone, which was stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
related: SpaceX’s Starlink mega-constellation launches in photos
It was the fifth takeoff and landing of this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description (opens in a new tab). The rocket previously helped launch the NROL-85 and NROL-87 missions for the US National Reconnaissance Office, the Sarah-1 radar satellite for the German government and another batch of Starlink.
As the first stage of Falcon 9 arrived for landing, the upper stage continued on its way to orbit. All 52 Starlink satellites deployed as planned about 62 minutes after liftoff, SpaceX confirmed via twitter (opens in a new tab) Wednesday night.
Starlink is SpaceX’s ever-growing mega-constellation that delivers Internet services to customers around the world. SpaceX has already launched more than 3,400 Starlink satellites to date and plans to put many more into orbit: The company has approval to launch 12,000 of the spacecraft and has applied for permission for up to 30,000 on top of that.
Tonight’s launch was SpaceX’s 45th launch in 2022 and the second of the day, after the Crew-5 astronaut mission for NASAwhich took off at noon EDT (1600 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The four-person Crew-5 is scheduled to arrive at International Space Station Thursday (October 6) at 4:57 p.m. EDT (8:57 p.m. GMT); you can watch it live here on Space.com when the time comes.
SpaceX also plans to launch another mission on Thursday, sending two commercial communications satellites from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 7:07 pm EDT (2307 GMT). You can also watch it live here on Space.com.
Publisher’s note: This story was updated at 7:35 pm EDT Wednesday with news of the rocket’s successful launch and landing.
Mike Wall is the author of “out there (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; Illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @migueldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @spacedot.com (opens in a new tab) or in Facebook (opens in a new tab).
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