SpaceX launched another big batch of its Starlink internet satellites to orbit and landed the returning rocket on a ship at sea today (March 29).
The Falcon 9's first stage came back to Earth as planned, acing a vertical touchdown on the SpaceX droneship Just Read the Instructions about 8.5 minutes after launch.
It was the fourth launch and landing for this particular booster, SpaceX wrote in a mission description.
The Falcon 9's upper stage, meanwhile, continued hauling the Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit (LEO). It deployed all 56 satellites as planned 65 minutes after liftoff, SpaceX confirmed via Twitter.
Today's launch was the 21st for SpaceX in 2023 and the 11th this year devoted primarily to building out the company's Starlink broadband constellation.
SpaceX has now lofted more than 4,200 Starlink satellites overall, according to astrophysicist and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell.
Those numbers will continue to grow far into the future; Elon Musk's company has permission to deploy 12,000 Starlink satellites in LEO and has applied for permission for another 30,000 on top of that.
Editor's note: This story was updated at 4:20 p.m. EDT on March 29 with news of successful launch and rocket landing, then again at 6:10 p.m. EDT with news of satellite deployment.
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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Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com 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.