SpaceX launched its second Falcon 9 mission of the day, sending 22 second-generation Starlink satellites into orbit on Saturday at 9:05 p.m. EDT (0105 UTC). It followed the successful launch of a four-member crew to the International Space Station earlier in the day.
With Saturday’s successful mission, more than 5,000 Starlink satellites have now reached orbit. Based on statistics compiled by Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who maintains a space flight database, SpaceX has now launched a total of 5,005 Starlinks since 2019.
After lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40, the Falcon 9 soared south-east, targeting an orbit inclined at 43 degrees to the equator. After separating from the second stage about two and a half minutes into flight, the first stage booster continued downrange for a landing on the drone ship Just Read the Instructions, stationed in the Atlantic east of the Bahamas.
Two burns of the second stage placed the satellites into the required circular orbit. Separation of the 22 satellites occurred about one hour, five minutes after launch.
The first stage booster, tailnumber B1080, was making its third mission. It’s inaugural flight was to launch the private Axiom 2 crew to the International Space Station earlier this year on May 21. It then lifted off on July 1 with the European Space Agency’s Euclid space telescope.
It was the 14th launch of the so-called V2 mini satellites which are larger and have four times the bandwidth of the previous models. The full-sized V2 Starlink satellites are due to be launched by SpaceX’s fully-reusable Starship vehicle, but the delayed debut of Starship led SpaceX to create a condensed version of the satellites so they could be launched on Falcon 9.
In early May, SpaceX announced it had more than 1.5 million subscribers to Starlink. The company’s internet service is available in more than 60 countries.