SpaceX launches 56 Starlink satellites, lands rocket at sea (video)

SpaceX successfully launched another batch of its Starlink satellites to space today.

SpaceX sent 56 Starlink satellites aloft at 11:35 a.m. ET (1535 GMT) atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, with the first stage coming down eight minutes later to make its eighth successful landing on a nearby drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean called Just Read The Instructions. The rocket's second stage then reached nominal orbital insertion nine minutes into flight.

The mission marked SpaceX's 43rd launch of the year, and 242 successful Falcon 9 flight to date, according to today's launch commentary from Atticus Vadera, a propulsion engineer at SpaceX.

Related: Starlink satellite train: How to see and track it in the night sky

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on June 23, 2023. (Image credit: SpaceX)

This was the fourth Starlink mission for this particular booster, which has supported numerous other missions including a resupply mission to the International Space Station known as CRS-24 and numerous commercial satellite launches.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lands on the company's drone ship Just Read The Instructions after lofting 56 satellites to orbit on June 23, 2023. (Image credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has sent more than 4,500 Starlink satellites to space already, and roughly 4,200 of them are operational, according to astrophysicist and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell

But SpaceX wants to keep growing the megaconstellation. The company has permission to send 12,000 of the broadband satellites to space and has applied for approval for another 30,000.

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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: