SpaceX launches 52 Starlink satellites, lands rocket on ship in Pacific

SpaceX lofted 52 more of its Starlink internet satellites to orbit Wednesday evening (Oct. 5), just hours after launching astronauts toward the International Space Station for NASA.

The Starlink satellites lifted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from California's Vandenberg Space Force Base Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. EDT (2310 GMT; 4:10 p.m. local California time).

The Falcon 9's first stage came back to Earth and made a pinpoint landing 8.5 minutes after launch on the SpaceX droneship Of Course I Still Love You, which was stationed in the Pacific Ocean.

Related: SpaceX's Starlink megaconstellation launches in photos

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 52 Starlink internet satellites to orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on Oct. 5, 2022. (Image credit: SpaceX)

It was the fifth liftoff and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description. The rocket previously helped launch the NROL-85 and NROL-87 missions for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, the Sarah-1 radar satellite for the German government, and another Starlink batch.

While the Falcon 9 first stage came in for its landing, the upper stage continued powering its way to orbit. The 52 Starlink satellites were deployed as planned about 62 minutes after liftoff, SpaceX confirmed via Twitter on Wednesday evening.

Starlink is SpaceX's ever-growing megaconstellation that beams internet service to customers around the world. SpaceX has already lofted more than 3,400 Starlink satellites to date and plans to orbit many more: The company has approval to launch 12,000 of the spacecraft and has applied for permission for up to 30,000 on top of that.

This evening's launch was SpaceX's 45th of 2022 and second of the day, after the Crew-5 astronaut mission for NASA, which lifted off at noon EDT (1600 GMT) from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

The four-person Crew-5 is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station Thursday (Oct. 6) at 4:57 p.m. EDT (2057 GMT); you can watch that live here at when the time comes.

SpaceX also plans to launch another mission on Thursday, sending two commercial communications satellites aloft from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 7:07 p.m. EDT (2307 GMT). You can watch that live here at as well. 

Editor's note: This story was updated at 7:35 p.m. EDT on Wednesday with news of successful launch and rocket landing, then again at 8:50 p.m. EDT with news of satellite deployment.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.  

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.