SpaceX launched nearly four dozen satellites and landed a return rocket on Monday (February 21) on a mission that set the company's record for booster reuse.
A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carrying 46 SpaceX Starlink broadband spacecraft lifted off from Space Force Station at Cape Canaveral, Florida at 9:44 AM EST (1444 GMT) into clear blue skies.
Approximately nine minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9's first stage returned to Earth for a vertical landing of SpaceX's A Shortfall of Gravitas drone, which was in the Atlantic Ocean several hundred miles off the coast of Florida. It was the 100th landing of the Falcon 9 rocket for SpaceX and the 107th landing of the company as a whole, including the landings of the Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.
“Great news overall, we are now anticipating the deployment of our 46 Starlink satellites, which should happen in about an hour,” SpaceX production chief Jessie Anderson said live after launch. Anderson added that SpaceX stopped live streaming before deploying satellites due to lack of ground station video link to satellites.
According to Spaceflight Now, SpaceX has already launched about 2,100 Starlink satellites into orbit, with more than 200 deorbited due to failures or decommissioning. But the company is far from over. SpaceX has permission to launch 12,000 Starlink spacecraft and has applied for permission from an international regulatory body for another 30,000.