VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — A SpaceX rocket carried 52 Starlink internet satellites into orbit from California early Saturday.
The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from coastal Vandenberg Space Force Base at 4:41 a.m. and arced over the Pacific.
The Falcon’s first stage returned and landed on a SpaceX droneship in the ocean. It was the 11th launch and recovery of the stage.
The @SpaceX Starlink mission successfully launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base at 4:41 a.m today. The mission launched on a Falcon 9 rocket and will add 52 satellites to the Starlink satellite constellation. Job well done #TeamV! pic.twitter.com/sTUmFwjZW0— Vandenberg Space Force Base (@SLDelta30) December 18, 2021
The second stage continued into orbit and deployment of the satellites was confirmed, said launch commentator Youmei Zhou at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
Starlink is a satellite-based global internet system that SpaceX has been building for years to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world.
Saturday’s mission was the 34th launch for Starlink, a constellation of nearly 2,000 satellites in low Earth orbit.
SpaceX also was scheduled to launch a Turkish communications satellite from Florida at 10:58 p.m. EST Saturday.