SpaceX launches 53 Starlinks in 31st Falcon 9 flight this year
Keeping up a record launch pace, SpaceX fired off 53 more Starlink internet satellites atop a Falcon 9 rocket Sunday using a first stage making its 13th flight.
The rocket soared away from pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 10:20 a.m. EDT, kicking off SpaceX’s 165th Falcon 9 flight since 2010, the 31st so far this year and its fourth flight to orbit so far this month.
The first stage, SpaceX’s third to make 13 flights, propelled the rocket out of the lower atmosphere, then fell away and flew itself to an on-target touchdown on an offshore droneship. It was SpaceX’s 131st successful landing and its 102nd at sea.
At almost the same instant, the second stage completed the climb to space and a few minutes after that, all 53 Starlinks were released to fly on their own, slowly spreading apart as they drifted away.
SpaceX has now launched 2,858 Starlinks in 53 flights overall in its ongoing push to build a commercial space-based internet system, although not all of those are still operational, according to astrophysicist and veteran satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell.