SpaceX lights up the skies with midnight Starlink launch (photos)

a rocket launches at night, creating an arc of light
Starlink launch, August 16, 2023. (Image credit: SpaceX via Twitter)

SpaceX recently launched another batch of Starlink satellites to orbit. 

A Space X Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the company's Launch Complex 40 (LC-40) on Wednesday (Aug. 16). The rocket carried 22 satellites to orbit, to add to the thousands already operational within the wireless internet megaconstellation. 

The morning following the launch, SpaceX posted photos of the launch on X, formerly known as Twitter. They depict Falcon 9's liftoff from LC-40, as well as its journey to space

Related: SpaceX launches 22 w satellites, lands rocket at sea

A tight shot of the launchpad shows refracted rays emanating from the rocket's engine plume, as the flames light up the smoke and pad infrastructure below.

Space launches 22 Starlink satellites on Aug. 16, 2023. (Image credit: SpaceX via Twitter)

A wider frame shows a group of photographers in the foreground, as Falcon 9 clears the pad, with light from the engines reflected in the water.

Onlookers watch a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch on Aug. 16, 2023. (Image credit: SpaceX via Twitter)

A third photo from SpaceX's post shows a long exposure of the launch, spanning from liftoff to sometime a minute or so into flight.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launches on Aug. 16, 2023 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Image credit: SpaceX)

This launch came on the heels of another Starlink launch, which has now been postponed until Tuesday Aug. 22 at 2:04 a.m. EDT (0604 GMT; 11:04 p.m. local California time on Aug. 21). In general, though, the cadence of Starlink launches, and SpaceX launches as a whole, are continually ramping up. 

To date, SpaceX has launched nearly 5,000 Starlink satellites as part of its low Earth orbit (LEO) megaconstellation. The majority of those are operational, and supply wireless satellite internet for any of Starlink's paying customers. 

Quarterly reports from analytics frim BryceTech recorded SpaceX having sent a total of 1,411 payloads to space in the first half of 2023. In response to posts about the report on X, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the company is on track to launch 80 percent of all the mass launched to orbit this year. 

The runner up in that measure would be the entire nation of China, at 10 percent, with the combined rest of the world holding the other 10 percent.

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Josh Dinner
Writer, Content Manager

Josh Dinner is's Content Manager. He is a writer and photographer with a passion for science and space exploration, and has been working the space beat since 2016. Josh has covered the evolution of NASA's commercial spaceflight partnerships, from early Dragon and Cygnus cargo missions to the ongoing development and launches of crewed missions from the Space Coast, as well as NASA science missions and more. He also enjoys building 1:144 scale models of rockets and human-flown spacecraft. Find some of Josh's launch photography on Instagram and his website, and follow him on Twitter, where he mostly posts in haiku.