SpaceX launches 5,000th Starlink satellite toward orbit (video)

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.

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

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 22 Starlink satellites on Aug. 26, 2023. (Image credit: SpaceX)

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.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rests on the deck of a drone ship shortly after launching 22 Starlink satellites on Aug. 26, 2023. (Image credit: SpaceX)

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.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with 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.