SpaceX breaks launch record as it sends 46 Starlink satellites into space Friday

Update: This article was updated to reflect the successful launch.

SpaceX made it through its second attempt to launch 46 satellites on Friday (July 22), breaking a record along the way.

The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket, which induced a scrub at T-46 seconds on Thursday (July 21), lifted off successfully from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California Friday. 

Liftoff took place at 1:40 p.m. EDT (1740 GMT or 10:40 a.m. local time at the launch site) amid severely foggy conditions on the west coast. 

The launch allowed SpaceX to surpass its 31 record launches of 2021 with a 32nd record launch in 2022, and still counting. 

Related: Falcon 9: SpaceX's workhorse rocket

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in flight during a launch of Starlink satellites July 22, 2022.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in flight during a launch of Starlink satellites July 22, 2022. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9's first stage also completed its mission, landing atop the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship in the Pacific Ocean as planned, about 8.5 minutes after launch.

Prior to this effort, SpaceX most recently launched a set of Starlinks from Vandenberg on July 11. On that occasion, another set of 46 Starlink satellites made it to space and the rocket landed successfully upon the droneship.

SpaceX has launched far more Starlink batches from the U.S. East coast, most recently from Cape Canaveral Space Force Base in Florida on Sunday (July 17).

SpaceX's Falcon 9 makes a safe touchdown atop the droneship Of Course I Still Love You on July 22, 2022.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage makes a safe touchdown atop the droneship Of Course I Still Love You on July 22, 2022.  (Image credit: SpaceX)

Starlink has more than 2,800 individual Starlink satellites launched to orbit as the company seeks to build out its satellite-internet service. Group 3-2 was SpaceX's fourth Starlink launch in July alone.

SpaceX aims to build out the constellation quickly. It has regulatory approval to send 12,000 Starlink craft to orbit. The company is also asking an international regulator to approve 30,000 satellites after that.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: