SpaceX launched 22 of its Starlink internet satellites toward orbit tonight (Aug. 31) and brought the rocket back for a landing at sea.
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Starlink spacecraft lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station tonight at 10:21 p.m. EDT (0221 GMT on Sept. 1).
The Falcon 9’s first stage came back to Earth as planned, touching down about 8.5 minutes after liftoff on the SpaceX drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
Related: Starlink satellite train: How to see and track it in the night sky
It was the seventh launch and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description. The company reuse record, by the way, is 16 flights, held by two different Falcon 9 first stages.
The Falcon 9’s upper stage kept on flying tonight. If all goes according to plan, it will deploy the 22 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) about 65 minutes after liftoff.
— SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches for record-breaking 16th time, lands on ship at sea
— 8 ways that SpaceX has transformed spaceflight
— SpaceX Starlink satellites had to make 25,000 collision-avoidance maneuvers in just 6 months — and it will only get worse
Tonight’s Starlink launch was supposed to be the second half of a SpaceX doubleheader: Another Falcon 9 was scheduled to launch 13 satellites for the U.S. Space Force from Cape Canaveral this morning.
SpaceX scrubbed that planned launch, however, due to an undisclosed issue. The company is now targeting Friday (Sept. 1) at 11:26 a.m. EDT (1526 GMT) for the Space Force liftoff. You can watch it here at Space.com when the time comes.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10:48 p.m. EDT on Aug. 31 with news of successful launch and rocket landing.