SpaceX launched 22 Starlink internet satellites into orbit tonight (August 31) and returned the rocket to land at sea.
The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Starlink spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida tonight at 10:21 p.m. EDT (0221 GMT Sept. 1).
The Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage returned to Earth as planned, landing about 8.5 minutes after liftoff aboard SpaceX’s drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
Related: Starlink space train: How to see and track it in the night sky
This was the seventh launch and landing of this particular booster, according to A SpaceX mission description. Incidentally, the company’s reuse record is 16 flights, flown by two different Falcon 9 stages.
The Falcon 9 upper stage continued to fly tonight. If all goes according to plan, it will deploy 22 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) about 65 minutes after liftoff.
Tonight’s Starlink launch was supposed to be the second half of SpaceX’s dual project: A Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled to launch the last of the US Space Force’s 13 satellites from Cape Canaveral this morning.
However, SpaceX canceled the planned launch due to an undisclosed issue. The company is now targeting Friday (September 1) at 11:26 AM EST (1526 GMT) for the Space Force liftoff. You can watch it here on Space.com when the time comes.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10:48 PM EST on August 31 with news of the successful launch and landing of the rocket.