SpaceX launched 46 satellites on Sunday (July 10) and landed the returning rocket on a ship at sea.
SpaceX’s two-stage Falcon 9 rocket topped with 46 Starlink Internet satellites lifted off from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base on Sunday at 9:39 p.m. CEST. EDT (6:39 p.m. California time; July 11 0139 GMT).
About 8.5 minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9’s first stage returned to Earth and landed on the SpaceX; Of Course, I Still Love You drone stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
It was the sixth launch and landing of this Falcon 9 first stage. The booster also helped lift the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Earth observation satellite, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, and three batches of Starlink, SpaceX said in the mission statement.
Meanwhile, the Falcon 9 upper stage deployed 46 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit 63 minutes after liftoff as planned, SpaceX announced on Twitter.
Sunday night’s launch was the 29th orbital mission of the year for SpaceX and the 17th dedicated to Starlink, the company’s vast internet constellation.
SpaceX has launched more than 2,750 Starlink satellites, and the number will continue to grow in the foreseeable future. The company already has permission to launch 12,000 Starlink ships and has asked the international regulator for permission to raise to 30,000 more.