A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lit up the predawn sky early this morning (March 11) as it carried a new batch of 60 Starlink internet satellites into orbit, before nailing its landing on a floating platform at sea.
The two-stage Falcon 9 booster lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 here at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 3:13 a.m. EST (0813 GMT). About 8.5 minutes later, the rocket's reusable first stage returned to Earth for its sixth landing, touching down on one of SpaceX's drone ships. The floating platform, called "Just Read the Instructions," was stationed out in the Atlantic Ocean, about 400 miles (630 kilometers) downrange.
It was a clear night in Florida for the mission's second attempt. The launch was originally planned to occur on Tuesday night (March 9) but was pushed back so SpaceX could conduct more prelaunch checkouts. Weather forecasters at the U.S. Space Force's 45th Weather Squadron predicted a 90% chance of favorable conditions for launch this morning, and Mother Nature delivered.