SpaceX launches 54 Starlink satellites to orbit after 5 weather delays

SpaceX launches 54 Starlink satellites to orbit after 5 weather delays

Mother Nature finally cooperated with SpaceX’s latest Starlink mission.

SpaceX launched 54 Starlink broadband satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida Sunday (Sept. 18) at 8:18 p.m. EDT (0018 GMT on Sept. 19) after five consecutive days of bad-weather scrubs.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carried the Starlink Group 4-34 satellites into low Earth orbit, deploying them as planned (opens in new tab) about 15.5 minutes after liftoff. Before that happened, however, the rocket’s first stage came back to Earth and landed on SpaceX’s Just Read the Instructions droneship, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast. It was the sixth launch and landing for this particular booster, SpaceX wrote in a mission description (opens in new tab).

Related: SpaceX’s Starlink megaconstellation launches in photos

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 54 Starlink internet satellites to orbit on Sept. 18, 2src22.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 54 Starlink internet satellites to orbit from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Sept. 18, 2022. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Starlink is SpaceX’s constellation of broadband satellites. The company has lofted more than 3,200 of the satellites into orbit so far. SpaceX is rapidly expanding the constellation, with launches happening pretty much every week — and sometimes more often than that.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently said he hopes to launch up to 100 SpaceX missions in 2023. The goal is, in part, to ramp up Starlink service as fast as possible for the remote customers that the company wants to serve.

SpaceX already has regulatory approval to launch 12,000 Starlink satellites. The company has also applied to an international regulator to send another 30,000 of the satellites into orbit.

The company is also expanding the types of customers that are accessing Starlink services. 

SpaceX recently announced a collaboration with T-Mobile to beam broadband service directly to cell phones. Additionally, SpaceX signed with Royal Caribbean to offer Starlink on cruise ships, to improve Internet service at sea. 

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 9:45 p.m. ET on Sept. 13 with the new launch date of Sept. 14. SpaceX had planned to launch the mission on Sept. 13 but scrubbed the attempt due to weather. It was updated again at 8:50 p.m. ET on Sept. 14 with the new launch date of Sept. 15. Bad weather scrubbed planned attempts on Sept. 14, Sept. 15 and Sept. 16. Sept. 14 attempt as well. It was updated again on Sept. 15, after bad weather forced another scrub. This story was also updated at 8:13 p.m. EDT on Sept. 16 to reflect a new launch time, and at 9:15 p.m. EDT Sept. 16 regarding the scrub. This story was updated again at 6:55 p.m. EDT Sept. 17 with a scrub and new launch opportunity. It was updated a final time on Sept. 18 with news of a successful launch and rocket landing.

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Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she also tackles topics like diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth’s on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, three space shuttle missions in Florida, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada’s Carleton University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Her latest book, Leadership Moments from NASA, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.

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