SpaceX launches 22 Starlink satellites on its 70th mission of the year (video)

SpaceX launched 22 more of its Starlink internet satellites to orbit early this morning (Oct. 5), on the company's 70th orbital mission of the year. 

The Starlink spacecraft lifted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station tonight at 1:36 a.m. EDT (0536 GMT). The rocket had originally been targeted to launch on Wednesday at 10:45 p.m. EDT (0245 GMT on Oct. 5), but was delayed several hours by poor weather conditions.

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

A SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage stands vertical after landing on the drone ship "Just Read the Instruction" on Oct. 5, 2023. The stage was recovered after launching 22 Starlink satellites.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

As to plan, the Falcon 9's first stage returned to Earth for a vertical landing at sea on the SpaceX drone ship Just Read the Instructions about 8.5 minutes after launch.

It was the eighth liftoff and landing for this Falcon 9 first stage, according to a SpaceX mission description. Four of its previous seven launches sent Starlink batches aloft.

The 22 Starlink satellites, meanwhile, are scheduled to deploy from the Falcon 9's upper stage into low Earth orbit (LEO) about 65 minutes after launch.

This morning's flight was the 70th orbital mission for SpaceX in 2023. The majority of those launches have been dedicated to building out the Starlink megaconstellation, which currently consists of more than 4,800 operational satellites

The Falcon 9 rocket has now flown 67 of SpaceX's orbital missions this year, with the company's powerful Falcon Heavy taking care of the other three. But that latter number is about to grow: A Falcon Heavy is scheduled to launch NASA's Psyche asteroid mission on Oct. 12.

SpaceX also launched a test flight this year of its new Starship deep-space transportation system. That mission, which did not aim to send a payload to orbit, ended four minutes after launch when Starship ran into problems.

Editor's note: This article was updated on Thursday, Oct. 5 to add details from the launch.

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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.