SpaceX sets new record number of rocket launches by a private company in a year -- and it's only May

A rocket launched Friday night making it SpaceX's 18th this year, a record for a private company.

The rocket carried 53 satellites for the Starlink internet constellation into orbit after blasting off from California.

The Falcon 9 booster lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base at 3:07 p.m., and minutes later the first stage landed on a droneship in the Pacific Ocean while the second stage continued toward low Earth orbit.

SpaceX later tweeted that the satellites were successfully deployed.

Starlink is a space-based system that SpaceX has been building for years to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world.

Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX has hundreds of Starlink satellites orbiting Earth at an altitude of 340 miles (550 kilometers).

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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