SpaceX launched its second Falcon 9 mission of the day, sending up 22 second-generation Starlink satellites at 9:05 p.m. EDT (0105 UTC) on Saturday. This followed the successful launch of a four-person crew to the International Space Station the day before.
With Saturday’s successful mission, more than 5,000 Starlink satellites have now reached orbit. SpaceX has now launched a total of 5,005 Starlinks since 2019, based on figures compiled by Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who maintains the spaceflight database.
After lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40, Falcon 9 rose southeast, aiming for an orbit inclined 43 degrees to the equator. After two and a half minutes of separation from the second stage, the first stage booster continued its descent to land on the drone ship Just Read the Instructions, docked in the Atlantic east of the Bahamas.
Two burns of the second stage put the satellites into the required circular orbit. The separation of the 22 satellites occurred approximately one hour and five minutes later.
The first stage booster, tail number B1080, was on its third mission. Its inaugural flight was the private Axiom 2 crewed launch to the International Space Station on May 21 earlier this year. It was then launched on July 1 by the European Space Agency’s Euclid Space Telescope.
This is the 14th launch of the so-called V2 mini satellites, which are larger and have four times the bandwidth of previous models. The full-sized V2 Starlink satellites were to be launched by SpaceX’s fully reusable Starship vehicle, but the delayed launch of Starship led to the creation of a shortened version of the SpaceX satellites so they could be launched on the Falcon 9.
In early May, SpaceX announced that Starlink had more than 1.5 million subscribers. The company’s internet presence is in more than 60 countries.