The latest SpaceX launch created a striking view along the U.S. East Coast.
A Falcon 9 rocket launched 52 Starlink spacecraft from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Saturday at 7:32 p.m. EDT (2332 GMT). Due to clear conditions across the coastline, it was visible at least as far north as Long Island.
Viewers close by the launchpad witnessed Falcon 9's first stage falling back to Earth for a soft landing atop the SpaceX "droneship" A Shortfall of Gravitas, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX is working on expanding its Starlink megaconstellation, which is now signing up customers in remote places like Antarctica. The company has already sent nearly 3,400 Starlinks into space and has a plan to bring thousands more aloft.
The Falcon 9's upper stage deployed the 52 Starlinks as planned, SpaceX confirmed via Twitter (opens in new tab). Saturday's launch was SpaceX's 43rd orbital mission this year, adding another notch to the company's annual liftoff record. (Its previous high of 31 was set in 2021.)
As SpaceX shoots for 100 launches in 2023, the company plans to bring up Starlink Version 2 (V2) satellites that officials say will be more capable than today's sets. For example, V2 satellites will interface directly with smartphones, including with T-Mobile customers via a project called "Coverage Above and Beyond," SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk announced last month.
The clutches of V2 satellites will go into space on board the giant, next-generation Starship vehicle that will be tasked with deep space, moon and Mars missions if the company's plans come to fruition. Starship's first orbital test flight is "highly likely" to occur in November, Musk said recently.
Hundreds of miles away, the Saturday sunset launch generated spectacular photography from professionals and amateurs alike, who shared their images on social media.
INCREDIBLE imagines of the @spacex launch from a C-17 cockpit over the Atlantic Ocean. Thank you for the pictures @mavliocca pic.twitter.com/fSO8zHTlKHSeptember 25, 2022
A @SpaceX #falcon9 #Starlink launch tonight seen from…NEW YORK!!! WOWWWWWW!!! pic.twitter.com/ykTfLtG2bjSeptember 24, 2022
Watched the Starlink launchTo cap-off an all-day drive.Totally worth it.Fourteen-hour drive,Just to drive home tomorrow.At least something launched!#haiku #doublehaiku #haikutoyoutoo #rocketlaunchhaiku #rocketlaunch #spacex #starlink pic.twitter.com/OofK7VQZ0LSeptember 25, 2022
This is what a @SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch from Cape Canaveral Florida looks like in New Hampshire pic.twitter.com/0JIcjjN3hHSeptember 24, 2022
One more shot from last night's #Falcon9 #Starlink launch. It’s the 2nd stage firing after separation; and some glinting off the 1st stage before it returns and lands on #ASOG off the #NC coast. @SpaceX #sobx #spacex #northcarolina @TimBuckleyWX @considercosmos pic.twitter.com/U6yOirTy9uSeptember 25, 2022
SpaceX Starlink launch spotted from Long Island New York! @CBSNewYork @NBCNewYork @News12LI @LeeGoldbergABC7 pic.twitter.com/fdF3Gjg8npSeptember 24, 2022
Spectacular post-sunset blastoff of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and 52 Starlink satellites this evening pic.twitter.com/FU0uk6BR4JSeptember 25, 2022
Falcon 9 launches 52 Starlink satellites to orbit pic.twitter.com/A4eGu4lmz0September 25, 2022