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SpaceX to launch 22 Starlink satellites tonight in 1st of back-to-back missions

SpaceX is set to launch 22 more of its Starlink internet satellites from Florida tonight (Oct. 8) on the first leg of a spaceflight doubleheader for the company.

The Starlink spacecraft are scheduled to lift off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station tonight at 9:06 p.m. EDT (0106 GMT on Oct. 9). Four backup opportunities are available as well, from 9:57 p.m. EDT until 12:29 a.m. EDT (0157 to 0429 GMT on Oct. 9).

You can watch the action live via SpaceX’s account on X (formerly Twitter) when the time comes. Coverage is expected to begin about five minutes before liftoff.

Related: Starlink satellite train: How to see and track it in the night sky

If all goes according to plan, the Falcon 9’s first stage will return to Earth for a vertical landing at sea on the SpaceX drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas about 8.5 minutes after launch.

It will be the 14th liftoff and landing for this particular Falcon 9 first stage, according to a SpaceX mission description. Two of its 13 previous missions sent astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA.

The 22 Starlink satellites, meanwhile, are scheduled to deploy from the Falcon 9’s upper stage into low Earth orbit about 65 minutes after launch.

Tonight’s Starlink launch will be followed in short order by another, that one from the West Coast. A different Falcon 9 is scheduled to loft 22 Starlinks from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base at 3:23 a.m. EDT (0723 GMT).

These two Starlink missions will be the 71st and 72nd orbital launches of the year for SpaceX. The majority of those liftoffs have been dedicated to building out the Starlink megaconstellation, which currently consists of more than 4,830 operational satellites.

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