Today (Aug. 19), SpaceX successfully launched a large batch of its Starlink broadband satellites into orbit while also landing a rocket on the water. At precisely 3:21 p.m. EDT today, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 53 Starlink spacecraft blasted out from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (1921 GMT).
The Falcon 9’s first stage returned to Earth for a vertical touchdown on the SpaceX drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida, around nine minutes into the mission. According to a SpaceX mission description, it was the ninth launch and landing for this specific Falcon 9 first stage.
A little more than 15 minutes after launch, the rocket’s upper stage eventually placed the 53 satellites into low Earth orbit as intended. SpaceX confirmed this through Twitter. More than 3,000 spacecraft have already been launched by SpaceX for the Starlink constellation, which broadcasts broadband connectivity to users all across the world.
Just saw a chain of Starlink satellites flying directly overhead west to east. They were brightly sunlit and then entered the Earth’s shadow and disappeared into the night. Never seen anything like it. pic.twitter.com/LUcu7sEaSA
— Kirill Osenkov 🇺🇦 (@KirillOsenkov) August 20, 2022
This year has seen the launch of many of those satellites. At this point in 2022, SpaceX has conducted 37 orbital launches, 23 of which were specific Starlink missions. The previous record for the firm for the most orbital missions in a year was 31, achieved in 2021; this launch cadence breaks it. Just a few hours had passed since one of SpaceX’s robotic Dragon cargo spacecraft left the International Space Station before today’s Starlink launch. Tomorrow afternoon, the Dragon is anticipated to make its way back to Earth through an ocean splashdown (Aug. 20).
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