SpaceX launches 54 Starlink more satellites, lands rocket in 100th mission from Florida pad

SpaceX continues to expand its satellite-internet constellation with its 186th overall launch.

SpaceX's 100th launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station featured a set of 54 Starlink satellites, which launched to orbit on Thursday (Oct. 20) at 10:51 a.m. EDT (1451 GMT). "With the completion of today's launch, it marks SpaceX's 48th successful Falcon 9 mission of 2022," SpaceX Space Operations Engineer Siva Bharadvaj said during live commentary.

This was the 10th flight overall for this particular Falcon 9. It's first stage touched down a little less than nine minutes later at sea on the SpaceX droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas. The satellites successfully deployed into low Earth orbit a little over 15 minutes after liftoff, according to SpaceX (opens in new tab).

Related: SpaceX rocket launch with Starlink fleet thrills stargazers along US East Coast

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 54 Starlink satellites into orbit from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Oct. 20, 2022. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Starlink is a constellation of internet satellites built mainly to provide service for remote areas. The network is huge and ever-growing; with more than 3,100 estimated operational satellites (opens in new tab) in orbit, SpaceX has hopes to expand that by tenfold pending regulatory approval.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 booster lands on the droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas in the Atlantic Ocean on Oct. 20, 2022. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Starlink service has proven crucial to besieged Ukrainians during the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, and SpaceX recently pledged to keep funding the constellation's Ukraine service after initially saying the Pentagon should help bear the cost.

SpaceX had a then-record 31 launches in 2021 and is close to reaching 50 already in 2022, with more than two months left in the calendar year. Many of this year's launches have been devoted to Starlink, but others have sent NASA astronauts to the International Space Station and lofted U.S. military satellites, among other tasks.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, 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 (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace