SpaceX launched 22 more of its Starlink internet satellites toward orbit tonight (Aug. 26).
It was a milestone mission for SpaceX, bringing the total number of Starlink satellites the company has lofted to date to over 5,000, according to astrophysicist and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell. (The tally stood at 4,983 coming into tonight.)
The satellites lifted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station tonight at 9:05 p.m. EDT (0105 GMT on Sunday, Aug. 27). About 8.5 minutes later, the Falcon 9's first stage came back to Earth for a landing on the SpaceX drone ship Just Read the Instructions, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
It was the third launch and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description.
The Falcon 9's upper stage, meanwhile, kept on flying. It's scheduled to deploy the 22 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) about 65 minutes after launch.
Tonight's Starlink launch followed on the heels of another SpaceX mission from Florida's Space Coast: The company launched the four-astronaut Crew-7 mission toward the International Space Station from NASA's Kennedy Space Center early Saturday morning.
Crew-7 had been scheduled to get off the ground on Friday morning (Aug. 25), but SpaceX pushed it back by 24 hours to conduct more analyses.
Five thousand Starlink satellites is a lot to be sure, but the number is likely to grow far into the future. SpaceX has permission to deploy 12,000 Starlink spacecraft in LEO, and it has applied for permission for about 30,000 more on top of that.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with the new launch date of Aug. 26. SpaceX had been targeting Aug. 25 for the Starlink liftoff. It was updated again at 9:25 p.m. ET on Aug. 26 with news of successful launch and rocket landing.