SpaceX launched its 22 Starlink Internet satellites into orbit tonight (Aug. 31) and brought the rocket back to land in the ocean.
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Starlink spacecraft lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 10:21 pm EDT (0221 GMT on Sept. 1) tonight.
Falcon 9’s first stage returned to Earth on schedule about 8.5 minutes after boarding A Shortfall of Gravitas, a SpaceX drone ship docked in the Atlantic Ocean.
Related: Starlink satellite train: How to see and track it in the night sky
Step one is the seventh launch and landing for this particular booster SpaceX mission description. The company’s reusable record, by the way, is 16 flights, conducted by two different Falcon 9 first stages.
The upper stage of the Falcon 9 continued to fly tonight. If all goes according to plan, it will place 22 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) 65 minutes later.
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 scrapped that planned launch. The agency is now aiming for a Space Force liftoff at 11:26 a.m. EDT (1526 GMT) on Friday (Sept. 1). Check it out here on Space.com when you have time.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on August 31 at 10:48 PM EDT with news of the successful launch and rocket landing.