SpaceX launched 52 more of its Starlink internet satellites into orbit Wednesday evening (October 5), just hours after launching astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA.
The Stellar Link satellites took off on top of a Falcon 9 rocket from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. EDT (2310 GMT; 4:10 p.m. local California time).
The Falcon 9 first stage returned to Earth and made a precise landing 8.5 minutes after launch on the SpaceX Of Course I Still Love You drone, which was stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
Related: SpaceX’s Starlink megaconstellation launches in photos
This was the fifth take-off and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description (opens in a new tab). The rocket previously helped launch missions NROL-85 and NROL-87 for the US National Reconnaissance Office, the Sarah-1 radar satellite for the German government and another Starlink batch.
As the first stage of Falcon 9 arrived for its landing, the upper stage continued to head into orbit. The 52 Starlink satellites were 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 megaconstellation that delivers internet service to customers around the world. SpaceX has already launched more than 3,400 Starlink satellites so far and plans to orbit many more: the company has clearance to launch 12,000 spacecraft and has requested clearance for up to 30,000 more.
Tonight’s launch was SpaceX’s 45th of 2022 and the second of the day, following the Crew-5 astronaut mission for NASA, which lifted off at noon EDT (1600 GMT) from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The four-person Crew-5 is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station Thursday, Oct. 6, at 4:57 p.m. EDT (2057 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 aloft from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 7:07 p.m. EDT (2307 GMT). You can also watch this live here on Space.com.
Editor’s note: This story was updated Wednesday at 7:35 p.m. EDT with news of the successful launch and landing of the rocket.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low (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 @michaeldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) Or on Facebook (opens in a new tab).
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