SpaceX launched another batch of its Starlink internet satellites to orbit tonight (March 18).

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying 22 Starlink spacecraft lifted off tonight from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base at 10:28 p.m. EDT (7:28 p.m. local California time; 0228 GMT on March 19).

The Falcon 9’s first stage came back to Earth about 8.5 minutes after liftoff as planned. It landed vertically on the droneship “Of Course I Still Love You,” which was stationed in the Pacific Ocean.

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

a rocket's-eye view of a booster coming down for a landing on a ship at sea (left), paired with a ground-level shot of the ship's deck at the same time (right).

a rocket’s-eye view of a booster coming down for a landing on a ship at sea (left), paired with a ground-level shot of the ship’s deck at the same time (right).

It was the 10th launch and landing for this particular booster, according to a SpaceX mission description.

The Falcon 9’s upper stage, meanwhile, will continue hauling the 22 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit. They’ll be deployed there about 62.5 minutes after liftoff.

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Tonight’s launch was the 26th operational mission of 2024 for SpaceX. Seventeen of those flights have been devoted to building out the Starlink broadband megaconstellation, which currently consists of more than 5,500 satellites.

SpaceX has also conducted one very high-profile test flight in 2024 — the March 14 launch of its Starship megarocket. That was the third test mission for Starship, which SpaceX is developing to help humanity settle the moon and Mars.



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