SpaceX Falcon 9 booster sets new payload record with 56 Starlink satellite deployment

spacex falcon 9
Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX conducted its sixth launch of 2023 on Thursday, expanded its Starlink satellite network with the launch of 56 new satellites into low Earth orbit. The launch was the heaviest payload yet for the Falcon 9 rocket, which usually carries 52 satellites onboard.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 4:32 a.m. Thursday morning, following a short 10 minute delay. The 56 satellites tipped the scales at a combined weight of 17.4 metric tonnes, according to a post by SpaceX on Twitter.


Less than three minutes after takeoff, the first stage split from the second stage and successfully returned to Earth. Eight minutes into the flight, the first stage made another perfect landing on the ‘Just Read the Instructions’ drone ship off the coast of Florida. Just before 5:30 a.m. EST, SpaceX confirmed the satellites had been successfully deployed.

This particular Falcon 9 booster had been used eight times previously, with the most recent launch taking place in April 2022. This Falcon 9 booster has also carried out two separate missions to ferry crews to the International Space Station. With the launch of 56 new satellites, the Starlink constellation now numbers more than 3,300 satellites in low-Earth orbit. SpaceX was approved in December to launch as many as 7,500 of its next-generation satellites, with the first launch of the V2 satellites taking place on the final day of 2022.