SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 2 satellites on record-tying 14th mission

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket on its record-tying 14th mission Saturday (Oct. 8), sending two commercial communications satellites to orbit.

The Falcon 9, topped with Intelsat's Galaxy 33 and Galaxy 34 satellites, lifted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. EDT (2305 GMT). 

The Falcon 9's first stage came back to Earth and landed on SpaceX's A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship about 8.5 minutes after launch. The robotic ship was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean, a few hundred miles off the Florida coast.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches two Galaxy communications satellites for Intelsat from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on its record-tying 14th mission on Oct. 8, 2022. (Image credit: SpaceX)

It was the 14th launch and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description. The rocket previously helped launch the GPS III-3 and Turksat 5A satellites, the Transporter-2 rideshare mission and 10 big batches of SpaceX's Starlink internet satellites.

Fourteen missions is the record for a Falcon 9 first stage, first set just last month during a launch that lofted the BlueWalker 3 communications satellite and 34 Starlinks.

Galaxy 33 was deployed about 33 minutes after liftoff and Galaxy 34 followed suit five minutes later, SpaceX confirmed via Twitter.

The duo "are the next satellites in Intelsat's comprehensive Galaxy fleet refresh plan, a new generation of technology that will provide Intelsat Media customers in North America with high-performance media distribution capabilities and unmatched penetration of cable headends," Luxembourg-based Intelsat wrote in a statement. "It is critical to Intelsat's U.S. C-band clearing strategy."

Saturday's launch was the third for SpaceX in a four-day stretch. On Wednesday, the company launched the Crew-5 astronaut mission for NASA as well as a batch of 52 Starlink satellites.

Saturday's flight was originally supposed to launch on Thursday evening (Oct. 6), but the Falcon 9 initiated an auto abort shortly before the planned liftoff. The abort was caused by a small helium leak, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said via Twitter Thursday. SpaceX then pushed the launch back to Saturday to perform additional vehicle checks.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.  

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.