SpaceX launches 23 Starlink satellites in 2nd half of spaceflight doubleheader (video)


SpaceX launched another batch of its Starlink internet satellites on Thursday (May 2), on the second half of a spaceflight doubleheader.

A Falcon 9 rocket topped with 23 Starlink spacecraft lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 10:37 p.m. EDT (0237 GMT on May 3).

The Starlink launch was SpaceX’s second of the day. A Falcon 9 already lofted two Earth-observation satellites for the company Maxar from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base earlier Thursday afternoon.

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

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 23 Starlink satellites lifts off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Thursday, May 2, 2024.A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 23 Starlink satellites lifts off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Thursday, May 2, 2024.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 23 Starlink satellites lifts off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Thursday, May 2, 2024.

After launching the Starlink satellites tonight, the Falcon 9’s first stage came back to Earth for a vertical landing on the SpaceX droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

It was the 19th launch and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description. That’s just one shy of the company’s rocket reuse record, which was set last month and tied by two other Falcon 9s, including the one that launched from Vandenberg on Thursday.

The first stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lands on the droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas in the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday, May 2, 2024.The first stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lands on the droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas in the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday, May 2, 2024.

The first stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lands on the droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas in the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday, May 2, 2024.

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Starlink, SpaceX’s broadband constellation in low Earth orbit, currently consists of more than 5,800 active satellites.

A fair number of those spacecraft have gone up this year; SpaceX has launched 43 orbital missions so far in 2024, and 29 of them have been devoted to building out the Starlink megaconstellation.



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