SpaceX Elon Musk’s space-faring company has successfully launched their Falcon 9 rocket into space. This is the first launch since its predecessor exploded on the launch pad back in September 2016.
Falcon 9 lifted ten satellites into space for communication company Iridium. The satellites will adopt low orbit positions.
The rocket launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Saturday. The first stage of the rocket also made a successful landing on the “Just Read the instructions” drone ship on the Pacific Ocean.
This launch is the 28th successful launch out of 30 for Elon Musk’s SpaceX. It is also the first since the launch pad explosion on Cape Canaveral in Florida last year.
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First Launch Since September’s Explosion
That explosion destroyed the rocket together with its payload, Israeli firm Spacecom’s $200m communication satellite Amos 6. The satellite would have provided high-speed communications for African and the Middle East.
After the incident, Tory Bruno, CEO of United Launch Alliance, told Reuters “It typically takes nine to 12 months for people to return to flight. That’s what the history is.”
Following an investigation into the explosion, it was discovered that failure in one of the helium tanks in the second stage liquid oxygen tank caused the rocket to explode. For this launch, the SpaceX team adjusted fuelling procedures to avoid a repeat of the incident.
This was accepted by the Federal Aviation Administration and granted SpaceX a launch licence that will cover seven lift offs. This will enable SpaceX to put Iridium’s 70 NEXT satellites into orbit, blasting off from Vandenberg.
Iridium is currently upgrading its existing constellations of satellites in what it describes as one of the biggest “tech refreshes” in history. The seven flight contract with Space X is worth $468m.
Matt Desch, CEO said in a statement following the successful launch, “Today Iridium launches a new era in the history of our company and a new era in space as we start to deliver the next-generation of satellite communications.”