With a stirring return-to-flight mission involving a spacecraft landing at sea on a ship today, SpaceX launched 10 satellites into orbit.
Falcon 9, SpaceX's two-stage rocket, launched from a pad a few hundred meters from the coast of California, carrying 10 communications satellites into low-Earth orbit on behalf of the Virginia-based company, Iridium.The mission capitalized on the abating of a week of strong winds and heavy rain, seizing the clearest day of late to climb skyward.
59 minutes after liftoff, the satellites began to deploy and completed deployment within about 15 minutes, according to SpaceX representatives.The success of the mission was paramount for the space exploration company after the failed launch in September that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket along with its payload, which included the Amos-6 communications satellite valued at $200 million.
Since September, SpaceX had grounded all of its spacecraft in the interest of investigating the failed launch to determine what complications were responsible.
Shortly after today's launch, Falcon 9's first stage detached from the second to return to Earth to touchdown on one of SpaceX's two robotic, so-called "drone ships." The rocket stuck its landing aboard the drone named, "Just Read the Instructions," which was positioned in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.
SpaceX now has seven of these touchdowns from orbital launches under its belt; five of which landed on drone ships while two flew back to their original launch sites and touched down on terra firma.
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