SpaceX launched another large batch of its Starlink Internet satellites into orbit and landed the return rocket on a ship at sea today (March 29).
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 56 Starlink satellites lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida today at 4:01 pm EDT (2001 GMT).
Falcon 9’s first stage came back to Earth on schedule, making a vertical touchdown on the SpaceX droneship and reading instructions 8.5 minutes after launch.
Related: SpaceX’s Starlink satellite launches in Megaconstellation photos
This is SpaceX’s fourth launch and landing of this particular booster wrote in a job description (opens in new tab).
The upper stage of the Falcon 9, meanwhile, towed the Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO). All 56 satellites are scheduled to be launched after 65 minutes.
Today’s launch is SpaceX’s 21st in 2023 and the 11th this year primarily dedicated to building the company’s Starlink broadband constellation.
SpaceX has now launched a total of 4,200 Starlink satellites. According to Jonathan McDowell, astrophysicist and satellite observer (opens in new tab).
Those numbers will continue to grow in the future; Elon Musk’s company has permission to deploy 12,000 Starlink satellites in LEO and has applied for 30,000 more.
Editor’s note: This story was updated March 29 at 4:20 p.m. EDT with news of the successful launch and rocket landing.
By Mike Wall “outside (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelWall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).