SpaceX launches its 90th orbital mission of the year
A Falcon 9 rocket topped with 23 Starlink spacecraft lifted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 12:07 a.m. EST (0507 GMT), on SpaceX's 90th orbital mission of 2023, News.Az reports citing Space.com.
As to plan, the rocket's first stage came back to Earth for a vertical landing about 8.5 minutes after launch. It touched down on the SpaceX droneship "Just Read the Instructions," which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast.
It was the ninth launch and landing for this particular booster, according to the mission description.
The 23 Starlink satellites, meanwhile, were set to deploy from the Falcon 9's upper stage into low Earth orbit about 65 minutes after liftoff.
Starlink is SpaceX's huge and ever-growing broadband megaconstellation, which beams internet service down to people around the world. The network currently consists of more than 5,100 active satellites, according to astrophysicist and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell.
SpaceX extends its flight-cadence record with every liftoff these days. The company's previous annual mark, 61 launches, was set last year. But we should expect even more spaceflight action next year: SpaceX representatives have said they're shooting for 144 launches in 2024.