SpaceX launched 22 of its Starlink Internet satellites early today (Oct. 5) on the company’s 70th orbital mission.
The Starlink spacecraft lifted off tonight at 1:36 am EDT (0536 GMT) from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket was originally targeted for launch at 10:45 p.m. EDT (0245 GMT on Oct. 5) on Wednesday, but was delayed several hours due to bad weather.
Related: Starlink satellite train: How to see and track it in the night sky
As planned, the Falcon 9’s first stage returned to Earth aboard a SpaceX drone for a vertical landing in the ocean, read instructions 8.5 minutes after launch.
This is the eighth liftoff and landing for this Falcon 9 first stage, one step SpaceX mission description. Four of its previous seven launches had sent Starlink modules up.
Meanwhile, the 22 Starlink satellites are scheduled to deploy into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) from the top of Falcon 9 65 minutes after launch.
This morning’s flight will be SpaceX’s 70th orbital mission in 2023. Most of those launches are dedicated to building the Starlink megaconstellation. More than 4,800 operational satellites.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has flown 66 orbital missions this year, with the company’s powerful Falcon Heavy taking care of the other three. But that latter number is about to grow: A Falcon Heavy is scheduled to launch on October 12 for NASA’s Psych asteroid mission.
SpaceX also launched a test flight of its new Starship deep-space transport system this year. The mission, which was not aimed at sending a payload into orbit, ended four minutes after launch when the starship ran into problems.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on Thursday, October 5 to include release details.